Thursday, May 17, 2012
I already had a young dog when I bought my home. Jack was a fun loving American Eskimo. Shortly after moving in I adopted Puff, a fuzzy yellow kitten. Jack was just shy of his first birthday so he and Puff grew up together and became inseparable. I didn't understand how closely they had bonded until 17 years later when I lost Puff to natural causes. I found Jack lying beside him in the morning acting as if he was trying to get him to wake up. Jack and I grieved Puff's passing and Jack never really got over the loss of his friend.
Yes…pets can develop a close bond with one another.
Some people think humans are the only species with the capacity to love and bond closely with others. They argue that pets have no emotions and are therefore unable to care about each other or even their owner. However, there are plenty of documented stories about pets developing strong friendships and bonding with each other and even with wild animals.
In Japan, a farmer was shocked when his cat came home with a baby mouse in her mouth. Now that in itself isn't odd, but it's what the cat did with the mouse that is. Instead of attacking her prey, the cat befriended the mouse. They shared food, they played together, and the cat protected her little friend from dogs.
Puma, a Labrador Retriever living in England, saw some boys throw a kitten into a lake. As the tiny kitten struggled to stay above water, Puma leapt into the water and rescued the kitten, returning him to the boys who promptly threw him back into the water. Puma once again jumped in to save the kitten, but instead of going back to the boys, he swam across to the other side of the lake and raced home with the kitten in his mouth. His owner opened the door as he came rushing up, and Puma ran over to a heat vent and laid the kitten next to it. He somehow knew another animal needed help and when his owner saw his devotion to the kitten, they decided to keep him and named the kitten Lucky. Puma and Lucky developed a close bond and had a long and happy friendship.
These are just a few of the many documented stories of animals bonding with their own kind or another species. I have seen how close pets can get with one another. Jack and Puff haven't been the only pets I've had over the years that developed a close relationship with each other. Having an opportunity to observe my pets and witness firsthand how they interact with each other, I believe our pets are just as capable as we are of developing a close bond with other animals.
I do think pets have the capacity to feel emotion, even if it's not the same way we do, and that is the definition of what it means to be a sentient being. We know pets can think, reason, feel pain, anger, happiness, depression and fear. If they have a range of emotions, then common sense would say they can also experience love and form a close bond. After all, pets have unconditional love down pretty good!
Dog and cat photo by Bryan Alexander
Two cats photo by Takashi Hososhima
Read more articles by Linda Cole