Which Pets Are the Most Affectionate?

Updated on August 25, 2017
Which pets are the most affectionate?
Which pets are the most affectionate?

We all know that owning a pet can have a number of significant benefits for people. Pet ownership has critical mental health advantages, such as relieving stress, anxiety and depression. Likewise, there are many proven physical advantages as well, including lowering blood pressure and even reducing the risk of having a heart attack. However, not all pets are created equal when it comes to helping their stressed out owners. Some animals are naturally more affectionate than others.

According to Blair Justice the author of, Who Gets Sick: How Beliefs, Moods and Thoughts Affect Your Health, physical contact with our pets immediately releases a number of pain relievers in the body, such as serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine and prolactin.(1) Considering all of the above, it comes as no great shock that humans typically prefer pets that are cuddly and affectionate. The question which instantly comes to mind then is which pets are the most affectionate. Read along and you will discover some answers that may be a surprise!

Dogs are loyal and affectionate pets.
Dogs are loyal and affectionate pets.

1. Dogs:

Dogs are not called “Man’s Best Friend” by accident. Not only are they fiercely loyal, but dogs are also extremely affectionate. Quite similar to humans, dogs are social animals who want to bond, be accepted and loved. (2) The tendency of dogs to lick their owners unmercilessly is a prime example of showing affection. While this is occasionally due to trying to lick salt from the skin, it is more often than not an illustration of affection and love. Also, while It is true that some dogs are certainly more affectionate than others, the truth remains that this is primarily due to upbringing and the fault usually rests with the human owner. There can be little doubt that dogs are one of the most affectionate pets.

Cats are more affectionate than they appear.
Cats are more affectionate than they appear. | Source

2. Cats:

Throughout time cats have frequently been described as cold, disinterested and aloof with their owners. This is actually a very unfair description of cats as they are quite affectionate in reality. The distinction between cats and dogs is the fact that cats show their affection much differently than the latter. In most cases, cats have true loyalty and affection for their owners. There have been countless documented cases whereby cats have risked their lives to assist an owner who they perceived to be in danger. In his book, Cat Sense, John Bradshaw backs up the claim that cats are just as loving and affectionate as dogs.(3) he goes further to point out that cats have essentially received a “bad rap” mainly due to the fact that they show affection differently than a pet dog. Such displays of affection from a pet cat such as an upright tail and rubbing up against owners are clear displays of affection which are frequently misunderstood by human owners. Despite the stereotype of being cold and distant, cats are clearly affectionate pets.

3. Potbelly Pig:

Another very affectionate animal which is frequently chosen as a pet is the potbelly pig. This is another animal which has a number of negative stereotypical sayings associated with it. For instance, we have all heard the phrases “eat like a pig” or “sweat like a pig”. The real truth, however is that pigs are very intelligent, sociable and clean animals. Also, Potbelly Pigs are exceptionally affectionate. They have an intense craving for companionship and respond very well to touch. (4) This is another animal which makes for a wonderfully affectionate pet.

When handled correctly, rabbits are very affectionate pets.
When handled correctly, rabbits are very affectionate pets.

4. Rabbit:

The term “Bunny Rabbit” is synonymous with visions of cute, fluffy and loving little creatures hopping and bouncing around from place to place. This perception is not too far away from the actual truth as rabbits make for very interesting, entertaining and affectionate pets. In fact, rabbits can be just as loyal and affectionate as dogs. A very close bond can be established between a rabbit and their owner. It is important to remember however that while rabbits are affectionate, they specifically respond well to only certain types of handling. For example, they do not like being picked up and much prefer to be cuddled and petted while they are on the ground or in your lap. If the rabbit is not pleased with the handling tactic of its owner, a quick instinctive nip or scratch may follow. (5) Nevertheless, when treated right, the bunny rabbit is an exceptionally affectionate pet.

Believe it or not, rats are sociable, empathetic and affectionate pets.
Believe it or not, rats are sociable, empathetic and affectionate pets. | Source

5. Fancy Rat:

There can be little doubt about the fact that many people are deathly afraid of rats. This creature has the unenviable reputation of being creepy, vicious, and has been associated with the images of unimaginable death during the black plague. While it is true that the sewer systems are the home for a multitude of rats, it is also correct that these are not what we are suggesting you try to keep as a new cuddly pet. Fancy rats are not sewer animals at all and are very intelligent, loyal and affectionate animals. They are sociable animals with a high degree of empathy, playfulness and are very affectionate to their human owners. If they are treated well and appropriately, Fancy Rats can be a perfect pet.

The loyal and affectionate Guinea Pig is easy to fall in love with.
The loyal and affectionate Guinea Pig is easy to fall in love with.

6. Guinea Pig:

The fact that Guinea Pigs are affectionate with their owners is very special indeed. They are natural “prey rodents” and as such their natural instinct is to run and hide, not play and cuddle. However, consider the following passage from Niki Vettel in the article “Pet Passions: How I Fell In Love With A Guinea Pig”, in which she describes her affectionate relationship with her pet:

Calling Ralphie affectionate is a ridiculous understatement. He loves to sit, half-napping on my shoulder, his back legs stretched out to their full four inches and his furry whiskered face nuzzled against my neck,” (6)

Once the important trust is created, Guinea Pigs will be incredibly loyal and affectionate pets with their human owners.

Horses are stunning and regal creatures who love to bond and show affection.
Horses are stunning and regal creatures who love to bond and show affection. | Source

7. Horse:

A horse is certainly not a pet which you keep around the house! They require large spaces, stables, and a steadfast commitment from their owners. Not too many people have the ability or resources to keep a horse as a pet and many would argue that horses are majestic animals who should never be considered as a pet in the first place. I suppose we could actually make that argument for all animals, but that is a story for another day. The fact of the matter is that horses are very affectionate animals who intensely enjoy the company of their human owners. Signs of affection include nuzzling, “hugging” (hanging their head over their owner’s neck), licking, kissing and actually following their owners around. (7) Horses are breathtaking animals who will be very affectionate with owners who have taken the time to establish a proper and long-lasting bond.

Cockatoos are very affectionate pet birds.
Cockatoos are very affectionate pet birds. | Source

8. Cockatoo:

When considering affectionate pets, birds do not come to mind very often. They are seen as unintelligent, skittish, and a pet which is not likely going to display any degree of loyalty or affection. However, anyone who makes such an assertion has obviously not owned a cockatoo. This bird thrives on the contact, love and affection that it receives from its owner. They are widely known to be playful, affectionate and cuddly pets which will develop a love and bond with their owner. They actually crave attention and affection so much that if it is not given regularly, the cockatoo will even begin to develop behavioural issues. (8) As such, they are the perfect pet for anyone who plans to spend a lot of time together sharing mutual affection.

9. Sugar Glider:

There are many who would argue that Sugar Gliders should simply not be kept as a pet. They are actually very small Australian possums whose normal habitat is up in the treetops. They have also not experienced the genetic process of domestication in the same way which cats and dogs have. (9) Nevertheless, they are extremely popular exotic pets and their owners contend that if they are treated properly, they will thrive. In fact, they are frequently referred to as “pocket pets’ who form an intense bond with their owners. (10) Loyalty, playfulness and outright displays of affection are all part of the Sugar Glider pet profile. This is another pet which requires a lot of time and commitment from their handlers, and ownership should not be entered into lightly. If given time, love and affection, the Sugar Glider will respond in kind.

The skunk can be an incredibly loyal and affectionate pet.
The skunk can be an incredibly loyal and affectionate pet. | Source

10. Skunk:

The skunk is another animal which has an intrinsically poor reputation. This is due in large part to their powerful scent which sends humans and other animals alike running in the opposite direction when a skunk crosses their path. However, there are a growing number of people who are keeping skunks as pets. They claim that once the skunk is de-scented, they make for an exceptionally loyal, loving and affectionate pet. This quote from skunk owner Travis Hamze, illustrates this preceding point quite well:

“People always say skunks are like cats as pets. That always makes me laugh because it's never someone who’s had a skunk clearly. Skunk people know the truth of this quite well. Skunks are way more affectionate and way smarter!” (11)

Once again, if treated well a skunk can make for a top notch companion.


Having a pet can be an incredibly fulfilling and rewarding experience. Pets provide love, affection and companionship. Usually, all they really expect in return is the exact same thing. That is why it is so critically important that people conduct proper research before they consider pet ownership. Different types of animals have various needs and people need to ensure they are willing and capable of meeting those requirements. Also, when considering exotic pets, it is very important to examine local regulations and laws to ensure it is legal to own a particular type of pet. If due diligence and care are taken, people can mutually enjoy the amazing world of pet ownership and enjoy the affection and companionship which comes with this great responsibility and privilege.


1. Who Gets Sick: How Beliefs, Moods and Thoughts Affect Your Health. By: Blair Justice

2. The Loyalty of Dogs. By: Cesar Milan. Cesar's Way.

3. Cat Sense. By John Bradshaw

4. Potbellied Pigs. Potbellypigs.com

5. Building a Relationship With Your Rabbit. By: Abi Cushman My House Rabbit

6. How I Fell in Love With A Guinea Pig. By: Niki Vettel

7. Horse Affection: How Do They Show It? By: Horsemart.

8. Cockatoos: The Most Affectionate Parrots on the Planet. By Pets4Homes

9. Adorable Viral Pet Should Not Be A Pet. By: Dan Nosowitz. The Dodo. 2014

10. Sugar Gliders as Pets. By: Granite State Gliders

11. Skunk Lovers Unite: A Look at Pets and their People. By: Vincent Musi. National Geographic. 2014

Poll Question

What is your Favorite Pet?

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    • profile image

      Annie leblanc 

      3 months ago

      I love pets I have three but want more!!

    • profile image


      3 months ago

      Some fantastic insights for pet lovers.

    • profile image


      3 months ago

      Cockatoos are affectionate but incredibly difficult pets to keep. They are loud, needy, demanding, destructive, and moody. Toos are best for owners without children or many other pets, and whom are home almost all the time. They are easy to fall in love with, and also the most frequent type of bird seen in shelters.

      Domestic birds are social animals and incredibly affectionate in general. They are also one of the most intelligent species and always want to be near you. But they also require their owners changing their lifestyles significantly... Imagine a toddler that never matures for 100 years and will die if you use nonstick (teflon) pans or bleach in another room. Birds!

      I'd recommend, if you're interested in a bird, adopting a pair of pigeons or doves. These are beautiful, cuddly birds, while not as intelligent as parrots, also are less likely to bite and don't scream. They can still be complicated animals to keep, so always do your research.

      Green cheek conures are also very loving and, like cockatiels, are not a "one person" bird. Mine loves giving kisses! But they also are nippy and can bite haaaard, especially during molting and mating season.

    • profile image


      6 months ago

      You're right about rats. One was left with me and I looked after her not knowing much orcexpecting anything really. After a while I suddenly realised I had fallen in love become totally attached to and bonded with her. When she died I bawled my eyes out. Now I have four of them at once. Every rat is an individual, they have big personalities. I just wish they could live longer.

    • profile image


      7 months ago

      You are right about cats - and rabbits, IMO, they may be just as affectionate as dogs, and readily show pleasure when a human is being affectionate. My sister had a cat when I was growing up. I loved that thing and was probably the one person who helped her grow from a cute cuddly kitten into a seriously lovey-dovey cat. She even came when called. And her favourite thing was to sit in my lap or lie on me when I sprawled out in a bed or on the floor. I've had rabbits, and nothing but great experiences with them for affection. You can even see it in their eyes when they're enjoying being stroked. My rabbit purrs when she gets stroked, or nuzzled by me about her head. And - rabbits are great lickers!

    • profile image


      10 months ago

      I'd choose an adult, indoor, all-the-time feline. My experience has been that most adoptees are happy to stay inside! We have an adopted, middle aged cat, right now. The trouble for me is that my husband is Kitty Jake's "chosen one." I don't get the pet affection I was hoping for, and, for a multitude of good reasons, my husband doesn't want any more animals, so, I adopted an endangered species of tree (A Cedar of Lebanon -- Cedrus Ilbani)! I love it. It grows nicely. We have play dates with other house plants (It won't go outside until spring.) and the Furbee I bought a few Christmasses ago. Jake follows us around. He's quite curious about the whole thing. I cuddle with the Furbee. Odd, maybe, but it satisfies my "need."

    • profile image

      your name 

      11 months ago

      i am trying to look for an easy to look after pet which will show love towards me as my cat just died after being hit by a car. i can't have another cat as it may happen again and i can't have a dog as i do not have that much time for it

    • profile image


      13 months ago

      I don't recommend parrots/cockatoo for a family/multiple people, because they tend to choose just one person that they drown their affection in, while being hostile/cold towards everyone else. There's also no guarantee that the bird will like you as the owner. The cockatoo my parents got only likes my dad and brother, only letting them pet and hold her properly. If my mom or I try to touch her, she's very skittish and likely to bite unless you're super careful (she likes being massaged on the back of the neck by anyone, but you must approach carefully). Only my dad and brother are able to approach her carefree, and pet her beak without getting bitten.

    • profile image


      18 months ago

      Thanks so much for including rats! I needed to see that

    • Leonard Tillerman profile imageAUTHOR

      Leonard Tillerman 

      20 months ago from Toronto, Canada

      Thanks for the comment. :) Dogs can make life complete. I cannot picture things without mine.

    • simplehappylife profile image


      20 months ago

      I think dogs are the most affectionate as well :) I have 3, Thomas (my 80lb hammy pit), Phil (my 5lb chiweenie), and Sam (my 7lb chihuahua). They are all incredibly sweet and bring so much daily joy to our lives, I can't imagine not having them here. They are just as much a part of our little family as we are.

      Thomas is funny. Every time I have something new (wearing new pants, a new purse, or what-have-you), he comes over, smells it for a second, then gives whatever it is one big lick. As if to say, "nice, I approve" :)

      Nice article Leonard :) I enjoyed it :)

    • RTalloni profile image


      20 months ago from the short journey

      A neat list of pets! Sugar gliders are a new-to-me animal. I find it interesting to "pet watch" as opposed to "people watch"– not all dogs, or cats, or ? are the same so finding a pet that likes you, no matter what it is, is key to successfully enjoying the ownership.

    • Leonard Tillerman profile imageAUTHOR

      Leonard Tillerman 

      20 months ago from Toronto, Canada

      Thanks For the comment. At lot can be said for just plain treating pets properly and with love. Affection will follow.

    • Pam McInnes profile image

      Pam McInnes 

      20 months ago from Ontario Canada

      I have two dogs, two cats, two chinchillas, and up until a year ago I had two rabbits (Motley my mini-velveteen passed away first at 10-years-old; a year later her life-mate and mini lop Christian, joined her).

      I can honestly say that I don't think any one of my beloved family members are any more affectionate than the other - they just show their affections differently. It is up to us to respect their different personalities and appreciate all they have to offer :)

    • Leonard Tillerman profile imageAUTHOR

      Leonard Tillerman 

      20 months ago from Toronto, Canada


      Thank you for the reply. :)

      I know I wrote the article and should not play favorites...but dogs are my fave.

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 

      20 months ago from Norfolk, England

      Omg, the sugar glider's eyes are too cute. Yes, dogs are lovely to have. I've got a dog and love him very much. He's always licking.


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