Thursday, May 17, 2012

How Close Do Pets Bond With Each Other?

By Linda Cole

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.

Two tabby cat siblings, Jesse and Jack, were separated when their family decided to move from their home in the southern part of Australia to a new home in the northern part of the country. Before the family could move, however, Jack disappeared. After several months the family feared the worst, and went ahead with their moving plans, taking Jesse with them. Losing Jack was hard on the entire family, including Jesse, as she and Jack had been inseparable. Shortly after moving, Jesse disappeared from her new home and the family once again grieved the loss of another pet. They were surprised to learn fifteen months later that Jesse had arrived back at her old home in the south. She had traveled 1,900 miles across the Australian Outback. In the meantime, Jack had returned home. When Jesse left her new home and headed south on her long and dangerous journey, it wasn't her old home she was seeking, it was her brother Jack. Their bond was closer with each other than it was with their human family. Jesse and Jack are now happy as can be living in their original home in the south.

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


  1. We talk about getting Finn a little friend of her own for her to bond with. I can't imagine why we wouldn't after reading this.

  2. Great stories. And I have seen several bonded animals. I had a brother and sister kitties, and they were best friends. The brother went off one day and never came back and the sister never did get over it. She spent many years missing her brother. I had two ponies that were raised together and when one had to go the bridge, the other truly did mourn for many months. It was so sad.

  3. I have the same kind of stories that have happened in out family!!! Love them--yours!!

  4. I love this post! Brings a lump to my throat! It is so true and I keep threatening Austin with a little friend to bond with. He’s none too keen, but he’ll get over it ;)

  5. We totally agree. Dakota and Phantom were very closely bonded and when we lost Dakota, Phantom had a very hard time. It took him almost a year to get over his loss. We now see a very tender and close bond between Ciara and Thunder. All four dogs blend very well together but you can just tell when there is something special.

    Nice post.

    Woos - Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning


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