Monday, February 14, 2011

Why Do We Love Some Pets More than Others?

By Julia Williams

I’m not fond of all of the hoopla that surrounds Valentine’s Day. I ignore the stores’ nonstop pleas to “spend, spend, spend” to show my love, because I know I’ve already done that, many times throughout the year. This day does, however, inspire me to reflect on the love I feel for my three Furry Valentines (Annabelle, Mickey and Rocky) and for the others who’ve crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the special bonds that take place between people and their pets – specifically, what is it that makes us bond more strongly with some pets than others? I’ve genuinely loved all of the eleven cats and one dog that have shared my home, but I’ve bonded with three of them on a much deeper level.

I can think of several reasons why a certain pet might capture our heart so profoundly. A strong bond can develop as a result of how they interact with us, or grow deeper because of how they positively impact our life. Sometimes, though, a strong bond is there from the moment we lay eyes upon an animal. I can completely understand the first two; it’s the last one I grapple with, because “love at first sight” defies rational explanation. I’ve had this phenomenon happen with both a person and a cat, and it’s difficult to put into words. There’s a feeling of familiarity, as though you’ve known them your entire life. Like steel is drawn to a magnet or a moth is drawn to the flame, there’s a forceful pull that’s hard to resist.

Many years ago, I experienced love at first sight with a tiny kitten I saw in a pet shop. It wasn’t that she was just so cute I couldn’t resist. She was actually a bit homely, since her oversized ears made her look like Yoda from Star Wars. It was just a feeling I had, that I couldn’t possibly live without her. But I went home alone, because I wasn’t comfortable buying a pet shop animal. I tossed and turned all night thinking about her, and by the next afternoon I couldn’t stand that magnetic pull any longer. I brought her home and named her Abby. She never did grow into those gigantic ears, but I loved her deeply from day one. 

I bonded with my childhood cat Pepper because his gentle, loving presence gave me stability in a world filled with tragedy, loss and betrayal. The current feline love of my life is my dear, sweet Annabelle. My bond with Belle has always been strong, but it gets deeper year by year because of the way she loves me, and allows me to love her. Belle is an affectionate cat that likes to drape herself over my shoulder and cuddle with me, not for just a minute or two but for long stretches. I hug her close and bury my face into her long fur, and she relaxes into me. She likes to sit on my desk while I write, with one paw touching my left hand. She also loves to be brushed, and gives the best kitty head bonks to say thanks. In bed, Belle snuggles under my chin and purrs herself to sleep.

There’s no doubt in my mind that I mean a lot to Belle, and that she genuinely enjoys being close to me. I’ve never really had an aloof cat, but neither have I had a cat more loving than Belle. I treasure this special bond with my baby girl, and feel so blessed that she chose me as “Mom.” 

I dedicate this post to all of the Furry Valentines in my life… and yours! If you feel like sharing a story about a special pet you’ve bonded with, I’d love to hear it.

Read more articles by Julia Williams


  1. What a wonderful story and wonderful feeling. Nothing could have said Valentine's Day better than this :D This is Lucy's mom, Jenny, speaking.
    At one point, I had all at once, 9 cats, 2 dogs, 5 raccoons, 1 oppossum, 2 birds and 1 squirrel -- all of which were in and out of the house at whim. It was an amazing sight to see them all flop onto the bed with me (the birds on the curtain rod) and never have even one squabble. Living in complete harmony is very possible :D.
    I have dearly loved and dearly mourned every pet of my life and bonded profoundly with all of them, but yet I know what you mean and even my Lucy came to me that way and she rarely lets me out of her sight. I, too, once fell in love at first sight with a man. Why it happened I'll never know, but it did and it was exactly as you said; it was as if it had always been. Whew, it was good.
    Anyway, here I am babbling away to you but you jolted my memory and I loved it.
    Julia, have the Happiest of Valentine's Days today and nuzzle all your furries until it's an opera of purrs. xoxoxo

  2. Yeah, we got to meet your kitties, kind of. Belle sounds like a super cat. I have had so many animals, that it will take some thinking to decided which ones were special. They are all special for different reasons. I did have one cat whose name was Sassy that was truly a special cat.And I have had some really special dogs too. But like I said, they all have different personalities and so have something different special about them. Great post. Lucy's blog is just terrific.

  3. I love my kitties and love them all for different reasons. They are all special for different reasons. We just have to find those things about them that make them so unique! Nice post!

  4. Mayzie's mom here. Great post. I think about this sometimes, too, and wonder what the mystery connection is. Obviously, Mayzie is my heart dog. But that doesn't mean I love her more than I do Ranger. There's just a different type of bond that I can't explain. I also had a cat named Annabelle and she was definitely my heart cat. It's funny, though, because I fell instantly in love with Mayzie. But with Annabelle, our deep bond took years to develop into what it was. Two totally different ways of happening but the end result has been the same.

    Thanks for this post. It's a great one for Valentine's!

  5. My current pet love is Misty who I rescued from the SPCA after Christmas in 2006. She was underweight as she was in the same pen as a rottweiler who bullied her. She had run away from two previous owners. When she arrived at my home it was obvious she had been mistreated by a man. She would not even eat if I was in the room and would not go outdoors with me.
    Now she has bonded so thoroughly with me that if I drop her leash she will pick it up and follow me. Misty also comes to me and runs to her bed because she wants to be hugged and her tummy rubbed. She is so sweet. ArnieC

  6. HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY To YOU and your furry loved ones!!! I hope you day is FILLED with Love and KISSES.

  7. I know exactly what you are talking about. My first cat was my Bobo (who passed in 2007 at the ripe old age of 18) We rescued him from under a car in the dead of winter. For that I think he was always grateful. Bobo lived for ME...plain and simple. Ours was a single pet household at the time so Bobo had me all to himself.
    He witnessed a string of wrong men come into my life (from an ex husband to men I "dated"), he moved with me to various homes and even moved to Michigan with me.
    He comforted me through divorce, a new marriage, my father's passing....we shared a deep history.
    He was my ultimate "soul kitty", kissing my hand when I cried or when I was ill...even our vet said he had never witnessed a bond between owner and their pet like I had with Bobo
    When he passed I literally folded into a crumpled heap crying into his still fur. I miss him with all of my heart and lost a part of me with him that day.
    I love my cat (Cody) and my dog (Dakota) but the bond is different. Their life experiences didn't cause them to need me the way Bobo did. They love me, I am certain of that, but just in a different way...but it is love none the less.
    Thanks for such a thought provoking post!

  8. Wonderful post, Julia!! I definitely feel that way about my cat, Priscilla. She is the first cat I've ever had (she'll be 10 in April), and from the second I held her in my arms when she was a few weeks old, I knew we were meant to be together. <3 Happy Valentine's Day, and thank you so much for your comments and support of my blog! xo

  9. My first cat was and is Chica who is going on 20. We share a very close bond, maybe cuz she was first. Each cat or dog I have had is special and unique - no two are ever alike.

  10. I totally agree with you that we somehow loves some pets more than others. I watched this series one day, in the story, the mother told her elder daughter that she loved both of her daughters but she liked the younger one more because they share more things in common. Coincidentally, one of my friends just told me yesterday that she wasn't so upset that her eldest daughter left the nest to further her studies in Australia which means she might see her once or twice a year in the future. Her reason was because she has three kids and this daughter is just one of her children. She loves her but she likes the youngest son more because she spends more time with him as he is still very young.
    I think if we have this kind of feeling towards our children, it's not a surprise we have this feeling towards our pets either.
    Thanks for sharing this post with us, this made me think a lot too : )

  11. My hubby says that everybody has the one dog of their lives in their life. Not that they don't love all their other dogs, but there is always the one that is special.

    Jasmine surely is the dog of my life for me. Reasons for that are many. She is the most super special in the world and for all times.

  12. Lovely post! We love all of our cats for different reasons, and rightly so. As you so eloquently wrote, they all came into our lives at different times, and under different circumstances. And of course, all kitties (and certainly our current three furry kids, Sammy, Moosey and Maggie) have unique personalities. One of our angel cats, Graphite, chose me when I first started volunteering at PAWS 13 years ago. He was a skinny grey cat with a less than stellar coat, and depressed, but would visibly perk up and look at me adoringly whenever I walked into the room where his cage was located. The staff and other volunteers pointed out that he didn't do this with anyone else. And I just fell in love with this sweet kitty. Suffice it to say, it wasn't long before I adopted my little buddy. He flourished (he filled out a little bit, and his fur got much better; he loved snuggling, playing and watching "bird TV"), and lived with me (and then Tracey and me when we got married) for eight good years. Interestingly, one of our current cats Moose, who looks nothing like Graphite (Moose is a big and broad, white and Tabby cat with crystal blue eyes, versus little grey Graphite with his emerald green eyes) has so many of our little angel's personality traits...

  13. Wonderful post... it's so true that the bond with each animal is unique. All wonderful, but none of them have been quite the same!

  14. This is just such a sweet post. I loved all my kitties growing up, but when Beatrice came around, I just felt such a special bond with her. She's taught my family so much about unconditional love. thanks for sharing.


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