Pet Pointers: Why we love our pets
You hear every day “I love my little puppy”. But why? Why is it that we love these furry little creatures? Today we’ll look at some theories about why we love our pets, in this edition of Pet Pointers.
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So why is it that we are drawn to keeping other species as pets? Researchers, psychologist and poets have been asking this question for centuries and new theories may help answer the question.
More than 60 percent of Americans have at least one pet, most often a dog or cat. But what about reptiles, birds or small mammals. One study from researchers at the California Institute of Technology and University of California at Los Angles, analyzed brain activity while people were shown photos of a variety of animals and objects. The results suggest that there is an ancient part of our brain that reacts at the cellular level to animals regardless of size or species, dangerous or friendly. This ancient part of the brain identifies what we are seeing as an animal while the reasoning part of the brain decides what to do next.
Some psychologists theorize humans care for pets for several reasons. First that we project human emotions and traits on our pets and think of them more as children who need us to care for them and nurture them. Another psychological mechanism satisfied by keeping pets is narcissism. Some people feed their egos by taking care of animals showing the world that they must be a good person because this creature loves them.
One of the most common theories on why we love our pets is that they make us happy. Interacting with our pets cause our brains to produce Oxytocin, also known as the happiness hormone. Nothing brings a smile to your face like your pet excitedly greeting you at the door, a cat coming in for a cuddle. Pets of various species give us emotional satisfaction that we identify as happiness and love.
Whatever type of pet you have remembered loving them means a lifelong commitment. Take care of your pets and have them spayed and neutered.