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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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