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Our Furry and Feathered Valentines

February 20, 2012

That we love our pets is a given for many people, but some may wonder if their pets love them. While there is no way for us to know what another species of animal is thinking or feeling, and there are some who may argue that animals don’t have emotions in the same way as people, there is no doubt for most pet lovers that our pets do care for us in their own ways.

Dog owners only have to walk in their front doors to the smiling faces and wagging tails of their canine friends to know that they were missed. It’s good to know that no matter how bad or long your day was that it seems to make your dog’s entire day when you get home. Dogs often follow their owners from room to room and enjoy snuggling up beside us on beds and couches. Many dog owners can attest to the fact that their dogs often know when they’re upset and try to comfort them. Even some behaviors that on the surface don’t seem quite as friendly are born out of our dog’s attachment to us. Dogs often jump up on us because they’re trying to get face to face contact and dogs will often chew up your shoes because they smell like you.

While cats are generally less demonstrative than dogs with their affection, they have their own ways of showing attachment. Anyone who has had a purring cat sitting on their lap knows what it means to have a cat love you. Cats will often lick or groom their owners, just as they would a feline friend. Weaving in and out of your legs with their tail wrapping about you is a sure sign of affection as well. And though humans see it as less than flattering, a cat that is stressed by your absence on vacation may urinate on your items, not out of spite, but because it finds having its scent mixed with yours comforting.

Pet birds, such as the many parrot species, also show affection. Parrots live in large flocks in the wild and can form strong pair bonds. A cockatiel sitting on your shoulder playing with your hair or earring is preening you as he would a bird buddy. Birds that are used to being handled will often lower their head asking for a scratch in return. And while not to be confused with vomiting when they’re ill, birds can voluntarily regurgitate food to those they love.

Even rabbits can show their owners affection. Bunnies will often lick those whom they like and if a rabbit is willing to stretch contentedly beside you then he trusts you a lot. Anyone who has seen a bunny zipping around and kicking its heels in the air has seen a happy bunny.

So as you celebrate Valentine’s Day this year with your human loved ones, be sure to give a pat on the head or a scratch behind the ear to our furry and feathered ones too.