Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Inexplicable Human-Animal Bond

By Julia Williams

When it comes to pets, I believe there are three kinds of people in this world: those who have never had a pet and don’t care to, those who enjoy having pets but don’t form particularly close bonds with them, and those who think of their pet as a family member that they would do just about anything for. I find it interesting that my mother is in the first group, my late father is in the second group, and I am in the third group.

Of further intrigue to me is that my sister shares my deep love for cats, while my brother has a cat but only because his children begged for one. This would seem to indicate that the ability and/or the desire to form close bonds with pets is not hereditary, nor is it shaped by your upbringing.

I honestly don’t know where my love of cats came from, but it’s quite clear it didn’t come from my mother or my childhood. Living on the outskirts of a small rural town, we did have an assortment of animals – a dog, some cats, two Shetland ponies, a few cows and chickens – but I don’t remember being especially fond of any of them. That changed when a cat named Pepper came into my life as an emotionally troubled young girl.

If I had to guess, I’d say my deep attachment to Pepper was an attempt to calm the chaos my life had become. Pepper’s presence grounded me and gave me an outlet for expressing the grief and turmoil that boiled inside. I could tell Pepper my deep dark secrets without fear of being judged or ridiculed. I could give and receive love in a way that I simply didn’t feel safe doing with humans. I trusted Pepper explicitly, because I knew he would never, ever betray me. Pepper’s unconditional love and acceptance of me was exactly what I needed to get me through this incredibly difficult time.

My beloved Pepper is long gone, but the bond we shared will never be forgotten. As an adult, I have been blessed to know and love many other cats, and each one has left indelible paw prints on my heart. My cats make this world a better place in so many ways, that the thought of living without them is inconceivable.

I can see, somewhat, how people could fall into the first group – those who have never wanted to have a pet – because they don’t know what they’re missing. However, I can’t fathom how any human being could share their home and life with a pet and not become emotionally attached to them. It’s simply not something I could ever do, nor would I want to be the kind of person who sees pets as an accessory or a possession.

I think many “non-pet” people have a hard time understanding how others could form such deep attachments to an animal. Regardless, I know I’m hard-wired to have an intense, life-changing bond with my pets, and I’m perfectly fine with that. I’ve come to think of pets as “angels with fur,” because they’ve saved my life on more than one occasion. My life is infinitely richer because of the wonderful pets that have graced me with their presence, and I wouldn’t trade those relationships for anything. 

Read more articles by Julia Williams


  1. That is such a good post. I write many pages about this subject. I have always put people in two categories but that mainly came from all my horses that I had and worked with. There are the people that have animals so the animal can do something for them, and people that have animals simply because they love them and want to do for the animal. In other words, provide a good home, good food and a good life. But this is so true for all kinds of animals. I am surrounded by people that have animals and could care less about them. They barely feed them and that is why I have so many cats.
    Anyway, this is a terrific subject. WEll done.

  2. My sentiments exactly! Thank you for that beautiful article. Each of my three dogs and three cats has given so much to my sense of well-being and completeness. I will never understand people (our neighbors, for instance!) who think of their pets as possessions easily replaced or given away as the spirit moves.

  3. Thank you for your dog Carlos is my "baby" even though he is 6 years old...even my daugther calls him her "brother"....he is very much a member of our it should be.

  4. You are right on the three types of people. Bonding with an animal is something special that non pet owners never experience and they are the ones who miss out on a special relationship that lasts a lifetime. Nice job, Julia.

  5. So, so true! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Julia, which it seems are the same as ours! :)

  6. ThankQ for this insightful article. I do know someone in each of your three groups.

    I did not grow up with pets but now will not know how to live without my two girls, CoCo the chi and Tiffy the poodle. They definitely are not mere dogs, but family to my prince charming and i.

    Thanks for visiting our blog


  7. Hi Canidae -
    Thank you for joining the Blog Hop and visiting everyone. I write the Blog Two Little Cavaliers and would love to work with you guys to help you get more involved in the Pet Blogging Community. Feel free to email me

    Hope you are having a fantastic weekend.


    PS I think I am going to have to find a sample bag or two of your PureSea Formula it looks like something Davinia and Indiana would love.

  8. I have always grown up with pets, they too were my salvation through many troubling times growing up. I have always valued their love and friendship and know it can always be counted on. I can understand to some degree how people don't want animals the same way my husband and I would rather have dogs than kids.

    Wonderful post, around here we understand your same thoughts!!

  9. Beautiful article and well said! Absolutely, "angels with fur" definitely sums it up.

    Thank you for your visit to my blog post about Sophie. Wishing you a great weekend. =)

  10. I think that is absolutely true about the three types of people. I also think that it's true that you have to have the right click of person and pet. I love all the dogs that have shared my life, but two of them have had a much deeper and stronger bond with me than the others!

  11. "Angels with fur". That is pretty perfect.

    Pets are so awesome!

  12. Thank you for the post.. I do feel connections with cats also.. I like dogs and other animals but I have to say my favorite is cats. I found this cat at the animal shelter. Her name is Michelle. I am not sure if I want to change it. But I feel a deep connection with Michelle and she is soo great with my 4 yr old and lets her hold her and Michelle is just perfect in every way and loves to cuddle and rub her whiskers on to you. I believe she is marking us with her scent if I remember thats what that means. I think she has picked us and we noticed. I have held many cats in the shelter and this one stands out to us. We were calling Michelle our cat before adoption papers were put in. We would visit her once a week or bi weekly. I am happy to share that I was approved for adoption and Michelle had her spayed surgery yesterday. I will beable to pick her up at the end of next week. This will be our first cat together. I am so excited I feel like I am adopting a human. :)

  13. Lovely post. Thank you for stopping by my blog - I'm following you back!


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