Pets – Do They Love Us?

I know I’m not the only one that has ever wondered if my pets actually love me or if they just like me because I pet them and give them food. And in addition to that, if they do really love me, is it the same kind of love I feel for them?

According to Dr. Nicholas Dodman on, yes, our pets do indeed love us. Dr. Dodman states that clinical evidence has shown that the heart rates of both dogs and cats decreased when they were in the presence of their owners. This signals a bond between an animal and its owner.

Let’s start with man’s best friend – dogs. Theresa Fisher, a journalist who writes for a website called Science.Mic, wrote an article about brain scans that were done on dogs in order to figure out what they really think about their owners. According to Fisher, these scans have not only revealed that dogs love their owners, but that they also consider them family and depend on them before they would other dogs. Fisher explains that because dogs navigate with their noses, animal cognition scientists at Emory University performed a neuroimaging study on how dogs’ brains process odor. This study provided the greatest evidence that dogs love their owners by discovering that the smell of a dog’s owner triggered the “reward center” of the dog’s brain. This makes total sense because whenever I’m at a friend’s house who has a pet and I come home smelling like the animal, my dog will sniff me up and down for 5 minutes to try and figure out why I smell so different. I’m sure I’m not the only dog owner who has experienced that. Another neuroimaging study done by researchers at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest showed that the same happy sounds triggered the auditory cortexes of both dogs and humans, proving the bond between the two. According to the study, this is why dogs know when our mood changes. Has your dog ever laid with you or licked your face when you were upset? Well, if so, now you know why. Attila Andics, a neuroscientist who was involved in the study, says that dogs look to their owners for protection much more than other animals, such as cats and horses. While these animals run away when they’re scared, dogs run straight to their owner. Andics points out another unique characteristic that dogs have that almost no other animals do; they make eye contact with their owners. I find this to be very much true because whenever I talk to my dog, she not only looks me in the eye, but often tilts her head back and forth as if she is interested in what I’m saying.


Here’s a video about 5 simple ways to tell if your dog loves you.


The next furry friends we’re going to talk about are cats. Of course, there will always be that person that says cats are evil and manipulative, but that just isn’t the case. Rafi Letzter published an article on a website called Popular Science that proves cat haters wrong. In this article, Letzter states that he called a guy named Bradshaw, who is a well-known cat and dog researcher. Letzter makes several points that prove that cats are as evil as they are made out to be. He explains that cats are very independent. Unlike dogs, if put in an unfamiliar situation, cats will explore independently. Hence the saying “curiosity killed the cat.” Cats are always curious and like to explore new things and places. He goes on to say, though, that this does not mean that your cat doesn’t love you. He uses the example of couples at a party. Some couples are attached at the hip, like a dog would be to its owner, while some couples split up the second they enter a party and do their own thing, like a cat would. Just because the couple doesn’t stay right by each other’s sides doesn’t mean they don’t love each other. The next point Letzter makes is that cats do, in fact, show affection. Many say that cats only rub up against things to rub their scent gland secretions on them and mark their territory, but if that was true, cats wouldn’t rub theirs sides against anything because there are no scent glands on their sides. Yet, cats rub their sides against us all the time. That, along with purring and cuddling or sleeping with us, Letzter says, proves that cats show affection. If your cat is anything like mine, you can’t lay in bed for two minutes without her following you into your room and plopping herself on your chest, purring away all the while. Another point Letzter makes is that unless your cat was born in the wild or on a farm, it probably isn’t the murderous predator everyone makes cats out to be. Letzter explains that hunting prey is taught by the mother cat in the first eight weeks of life, but if born from a domesticated cat, your cat will not learn or ever possess the hunting skill.


Here’s a video that shows how cats express their love for their owners.


It is safe to say that despite much skepticism, our pets usually do love us and enjoy having us around. If you can recognized any of these pet behaviors to be familiar, you know for sure your pet loves you very much!



5 thoughts on “Pets – Do They Love Us?

  1. Yixiao Jiang

    Hello! Actually, I think about the same question before. I watched a movie called Hachi which is a movie transferred from a true story. It talks about after a dog owner died, the dog stays in the same place for rest of its life to wait his owner come back. I think there is definitely a good relationship between humans and animals. Since humans come from animals, they shared some similarities. When animals feel that you love them, they would definitely provide warmly actions.

  2. Hannah Gluck

    Hi! I found this very interesting to read because I have both dogs and a cat although I would like to see more scientific information to back these statements up. Everything you listed above was only observational and I feel like a full conclusion cannot be drawn based off of this data. Observational studies are helpful and help us notice trends but in order to really test something more research must be done. This article here talks more about the chemicals that are released in a cats brain that prove cats are capable of love. This hard data is a lot more reliable, yes we can observe love but you cant come to a strong conclusion with out hard evidence. Overall I think observational studies are very helpful but in many cases they don’t give enough depth. Most times in order to get hard evidence more in depth studies such as a double blind placebo are necessary.

  3. Raegan S Pechar

    Hey there! Personally, I have always been a dog person rather than a cat person, but I believe that’s because I am highly allergic to cats. Also, I like how dependent dogs are! I’m the type of person to love cuddles and constant pets and licks to the face, so your studies showing that they actually love us as much as we love them is incredible news!!! However I have found cats equally as lovable. My family owns two cats (they don’t seem to care that I’m allergic), one is about a year old, and the other is only a couple of weeks. Both are independent little beings and don’t care much for snuggling, except for when it’s nap time. Once they tucker themselves out, you can find them fast asleep next to me, or sometimes even on my shoulder or stomach. Here’s an article that I found talking about why dogs are so happy to see us when we get home:

  4. Sean Kyle Reilly

    Hey Colleen!

    While I found your post quite informative, I felt the initial need to disagree with your stance on cats. I am normally the guy who says “cats are evil and manipulative” and means it. Living with three cats has shown me a number of examples of this, and the only time one of them tends to bug me is when they are in heat (all three are female), even though I try to pet them and give them attention throughout the days I am home. Otherwise, they just do their own thing, mostly lounging around or climbing on curtains, and give hardly a second thought to my presence unless I seek them out first.

    I found an interesting study done by a few scientists at the University of London where they placed some cats in a room also occupied with other humans, some were their owners while others were just strangers, and found that cats typically do not rely on their owners and will interact with their environment as a whole as opposed to being by their owners side all the time. While they do not rely on us, or other cats, this shows a more independent side to them, meaning that if they are not trying to break out of your house like a reverse Ocean’s Eleven film, then they must love the environment they are in, and will continue to stay there. More information can be found here:

    Overall, maybe they are not “evil and manipulative” after all. I will remain skeptical, however, since they also like to climb onto my desk and knock down my things… almost daily, and as if on purpose.

    Great job with your post though, and perhaps next time try and embed your videos into the post itself as opposed to just offering a link – it will make it look more filled up with additional images/content!

  5. Tyler Olson

    I can personally attest that my cats do love my family deeper than simply a surface “give me food” level. We travel quite a lot and will often leave the cats alone in our home for up to two weeks at a time. We leave gravity feeders and large water bowls for them and have a neighbor come from time to time to check on those things and scoop their litter. So they don’t necessarily associate us with food. Yet, unfailingly, when we come home, all three of them come scurrying to the door eager to see us, despite them not necessarily needing us for survival.

    I also found this interesting article on the brain chemistry of cars and dogs and how, just as when a person sees a loved one, these animals will release oxytocin in their brains as a positive reaction.

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