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Dogs and Cats Have All the Feels Too

By Colleen Williams
published: June 3, 2016 - updated: March 18, 2022 • 2 min. read
Do Animals Have Feelings?
Do Animals Have Feelings?

We’ve said it forever: your dogs and cats are a part of your family. Indisputable! But now, across the globe, laws have started enforcing this message. New Zealand and France have taken into consideration recent studies about animal emotions and determined that pets have feelings (anyone who has gotten in a tiff with their kitty over the good spot on the couch knows how true that is). In a fascinating article on Modern Dog, we discover that “dogs possess all of the same brain structures that produce emotions in humans,” so your pets truly do feel fear, desire, joy, and love; most dog owners know that science has already proven dogs are emotionally equivalent to a human toddler. And it’s not just emotions—you know your fur baby has a unique and distinct personality as well.

The Secret Life of Pets, the animated film out July 8th from the guys behind Despicable Me, tackles pet personalities outright. The cast of characters is so defined by personality you’ll be hard-pressed not to crack up (especially thanks to the voices of Louis CK and Kevin Hart). But each one is also completely relatable. Everyone knows someone (perhaps it’s you) with a super sassy cat, or a cat who is indifferent unless a bribe is involved, or a dog you swear is sarcastic, despite hard evidence that dogs don’t “get” irony. We’ve all seen our pets react to music, movies, and commercials, so we know they have likes and dislikes—whether it’s a thirst for metal or even playing iPad games. With their range of emotions and vibrant personalities, our pets can be a reflection of ourselves, but also very much individuals.

So how do you know what they’re feeling? Pet parents’ common sense dictates watching for signs—tails wagging, paw swatting, tails flicking (watch out!). But other signs we should now take into consideration: your pup may have anxiety when she licks her paw too much, your cat may show happiness and affection when you come home from a long day, and you might see sadness when packing your suitcase for vacation. While we may not be communicating with our pets in English (although that may be on the horizon for cat owners), we’re constantly communicating with our furry “kids,” and just like any member of your family, you just know when something is up.

So rejoice! Science proves not only that your pet loves you, he or she is also a thinking, feeling being. Now that it’s confirmed you know your pet really well, how well do you know yourself?

colleen williams
By Colleen Williams

Over the past decade, Colleen has written about health, wellness, beauty, and even pets for The New York Times, The Cut, Refinery29, xoVain, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and Seattle Met Magazine, as well as many beauty brands. She has a BFA in Art History from the University of New Mexico and an AAS in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design in New York.

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