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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.

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