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Which Animals Make the Most Affectionate and Cuddly Pets?

Leonard is a former teacher and principal who has been a writer for the past three decades. Writing and animals are his true loves.

Which pets are the most affectionate?

Which pets are the most affectionate?

Owning a Pet Is Beneficial

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, 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, including serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine, and prolactin.

This considered, it comes as no great shock that humans typically prefer pets that love to be affectionate and cuddle. The question that instantly comes to mind then: which pets are the most affectionate? Read along and you will discover some answers that might come as a surprise!

Which Animals Make the Most Loving and Affectionate Pets?

Here's a quick breakdown of the most friendly and affectionate animals that make great friends for your journey through life:

  1. Dogs
  2. Cats
  3. Pot-Bellied Pigs
  4. Rabbits
  5. Fancy Rats
  6. Guinea Pigs
  7. Horses
  8. Cockatoos
  9. Sugar Gliders
  10. Skunks

Read on to find more detailed descriptions of each animal and what makes them such great companions for cuddling and loving!

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 be loved. Dogs' tendency to mercilessly lick their owners is a prime example of their affection. While this may occasionally simply be an attempt to lick the salt from the skin, it is usually a demonstration of a dog's affection and love.

While it is true that some dogs are certainly more affectionate than others, this is primarily due to upbringing and the fault usually rests with the human owner. Even breeds considered to be overly aggressive, such as pit bulls or Rottweilers, can turn into the most affectionate and cuddly softies if they're provided with a secure and loving home. From their endless licking to their tendency to basically tackle you with excitement every time you come home, there can be little doubt that dogs are one of the most affectionate pets.

Common Ways for Dogs to Show Affection:

  • snuggling
  • hugging
  • tail-wagging
  • licking
  • barking
  • playing games
  • protecting you
  • jumping up into the air
  • leaning against you
  • following you around

2. Cats

Cats have frequently been described as cold, disinterested, and aloof. This is actually a very unfair description of cats, as they are quite affectionate in reality. Dogs and cats show their affection differently, but in most cases, cats have true loyalty and affection for their owners. There have been countless documented cases when cats have risked their lives to assist an owner whom they perceived to be in danger.

In his book, Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet, John Bradshaw claims that cats are just as loving and affectionate as dogs. 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 actions as pointing their tail upright 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.

Common Ways for Cats to Show Affection:

  • snuggling
  • hugging
  • licking
  • kneading
  • purring
  • playing games
  • protecting you
  • rubbing up against you
  • following you around
  • sitting on your lap
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3. Pot-Bellied Pigs

Another very affectionate animal that is frequently chosen as a pet is the pot-bellied pig. This is another animal that has a number of negative stereotypes associated with it. For instance, we have all heard the phrases “eat like a pig” or “sweat like a pig" or "filthy as a pig sty." The truth is, however, that pigs are very intelligent, sociable, and clean animals. (The main reason they often roll around in mud is because they lack sweat glands and are trying to cool off.)

Pot-bellied pigs are also exceptionally affectionate. They have an intense craving for companionship and respond very well to touch. They also love to play and should be given frequent access to open spaces to run around in, ideally with lots of shade for cooling down. In fact, they are quite curious and playful and can become easily bored if not provided with enough activities and stimuli. As such, it's a good idea to "pig-proof" your home just in case they become overly curious or destructive. But if you have the ability to provide them with a good home and lots of attention, pot-bellied pigs can easily turn into one of your dearest, most affectionate companions.

Common Ways for Pot-Bellied Pigs to Show Affection:

  • snuggling
  • tail-wagging
  • licking
  • squealing
  • playing games
  • protecting you
  • rubbing their nose on you
  • following you around

4. Rabbits

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. They also have a wide range of personalities—from quiet and shy to outgoing and playful—to suit any kind of owner.

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. Thus, it is important to keep an eye on small children whenever they are interacting with a rabbit they do not know. Nevertheless, when treated right, the bunny rabbit is an exceptionally affectionate pet.

Common Ways for Rabbits to Show Affection:

  • snuggling
  • licking
  • squealing
  • playing games
  • demanding head rubs
  • running around your feet
  • jumping up into the air
  • following you around

5. Fancy Rats

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 and vicious and has been associated with the images of unimaginable death during the era of the Black Plague. While it is true that the sewer systems are home to a multitude of rats, it is also correct that these are not what we are generally suggesting you try to keep as a new cuddly pet.

Fancy rats are not sewer animals at all and are actually quite clean and regular self-groomers. They are also very intelligent, loyal, and affectionate animals. Fancy rats are sociable animals with a high degree of empathy and playfulness and are very affectionate to their human owners. They often enjoy solving puzzles and even love to just hang out on their owners' shoulders. If they are treated well and appropriately, fancy rats can be a perfect pet.

Common Ways for Rats to Show Affection:

  • snuggling
  • licking
  • squealing
  • playing games
  • following you around
  • sitting on your shoulder