Jealousy is a heck of a thing. You see them cozying up to your partner, grabbing their attention, getting tons of cuddles, and making them smile far wider than you ever made them. When it comes to pets, you just can’t compete—they’ll shamelessly steal your significant other’s heart and act all cute and smug about it!
Don’t believe us? Well, our team here at Bored Panda has all the proof you’ll ever need. We’ve collected some of the best photos that prove how unabashedly pets (from dorky doggos to cute cattos) monopolize the attention that our loved ones should be lavishing us with!
Get ready to have your mood improved and to go ‘aww’ so hard, you’ll consider adopting a new pet. Don’t forget to upvote the pics that you loved the most as you scroll down. You’ll find our previous wholesome post about those cute but dastardly pets stealing our significant others right over here.
Bored Panda was interested to learn more about animal empathy, consciousness, and their world of emotions, so we reached out to the PDSA, the UK's leading vet charity. PDSA vet Lynne James told us that animals lead lives that can be as rich and complex as our own. Read on for the full interview.
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"Anyone who has ever owned a pet will recognize their ability to understand their owner’s moods. Who hasn’t sat down in misery and found their dog has hopped up next to them nudging their arm, wanting to be there for them, or their cat has jumped up on the seat next to them in a comforting way? This doesn’t happen by accident," PDSA vet James told Bored Panda.
According to the vet, research has found that many animals experience consciousness and emotions comparable to human beings. "They pick up on moods, emotions, and pheromones produced by people and other animals. By responding to these and acting accordingly, they are reacting with empathy, but this will definitely apply to some pets more than others."
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Vet James pointed out that mammals feel a wide range of emotions, from love, happiness, and excitement to fear, distress, and others. "It’s incredibly important that we respect and nurture our pets so that they can enjoy a happy life with us. Our pets have individual needs; some pets may be very sociable while others less so. As a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to provide for your pet’s five welfare needs, including their need for love and attention, and you can’t do that unless you learn about the species you’re planning to share your life with."
The PDSA vet continued, stressing that socializing with our pets is a must: "A sociable animal won’t thrive in life if their need for companionship isn’t met. How many of us humans have struggled with lockdown? We’re sociable creatures and the lack of social interaction has meant that lots of us are finding things hard, but can you imagine if we had to live like this permanently? We wouldn’t want to inflict that on our sociable pets either."
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However, some pets find that sharing their homes with other animals (whether of their own species or nto) to be stressful. This can impact their mental and even physical health. "It’s really important to research your pets so that you know you’re providing the right kind of environment for them so you can share a happy life together," the vet said.
The PDSA has lots of wonderful advice for all of you Pandas who have pets at home. You can find some information about how to socialize your puppies during the lockdown here, how to socialize your kittens right here, and how to stop your dogs from getting separation anxiety right over here.
It won’t surprise any pet owner to learn that animals have a highly-developed sense of empathy toward their owners, as well as their own kind. (I mean, who doesn’t like getting and giving hugs?) However, this doesn’t mean that everyone’s always lovey-dovey and super-cuddlesome. Sometimes, there’s some calculation on our pets’ part involved, too!
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For an earlier article that we wrote about pet intelligence, we’d reached out to Dr. Suzanne MacDonald from the Department of Psychology at York University in Toronto. She helped us get a deeper glimpse into pet intelligence as a whole.
Dr. MacDonald explained that, based on her experience with pet owners, they “tend to overestimate” just how intelligent, smart, and clever their adorable animals are. This is pretty natural because we love our pets just so very much.
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According to Dr. Macdonald, it’s dog owners in particular that tend to overestimate their pets’ intelligence. “Dog owners tend to overestimate their intelligence because dogs and humans co-evolved so we can read each other’s cues very well. Dogs are super great at picking up small cues from us, and they look to us when they need help... so they have learned to do things—like have a 'guilty' face, for example—that make us think they have the same intentions and understanding that humans do... even if the research shows that they don’t."
Dr. Macdonald added that pet owners generally tend to attribute a lot more cognitive complexity to their animals than research shows that they have in reality. Now, this doesn’t mean that our pets are ‘dumb.’ Not by a long shot. But it does mean that we should be realistic about how smart and capable our best buddies are… and what dogs are willing to do to get a snack or an extra belly rub.
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We also previously spoke to scientist Inbal Ben-Ami Bartal about rat empathy. She explained that empathy is a very complex subject. “The definition of empathy, how can we say that animals really feel empathy the same way we do. But empathy is a construct. We don’t even know what it is in humans really!”
Bartal continued: “I operate on the assumption that there is an evolutionary continuum between species, and that the basic building blocks of our responses are shared. Being sensitive to distress in others and motivated to care about their suffering is as old as the moment mother and child became connected for survival after birth.”
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In other words, Bartal assumes that there’s a sense of empathy that all conscious animals share (even though the exact extent and the way it’s expressed might differ). Looking at the capacity for empathy as a continuum instead of something that’s binary opens up a lot of questions about morality and how we treat animals.
Bartal and other scientists’ research found that socialization was a vital aspect of empathy. To put it bluntly, the more we socialize with someone, the more quality time we spend with them, the more we’ll become emotionally attached to them and willing to make sacrifices for them.
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Not to get too ahead of ourselves, but this sort of research sounds a lot like the scientists finding the building blocks of love, affection, and whatever else you might want to call the starry-eyed look on your pets’ faces as they’re hugging you while your partner looks on in envy.
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What did you think of this post? Which photos got your hearts beating the fastest with how adorable they were, dear Pandas? Got any similar photos of your pets stealing your significant others’ hearts? Drop us a line or a photo in the comment section. And, before you go, you might want to check our old post about a woman who documented how her cat stole her husband in hilarious and over-the-top cutesy photos right over here.