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Understanding Your Pets

Updated on April 14, 2012

I have heard many times people saying, "Don't treat animals like they were humans". I think this is a huge mistake.

Such thinking puts a huge obstacle in the way of learning to understand your pet. Humans are driven by their needs, like food, shelter, and their need for affection. How does this differ from what drives our pets? They need food, shelter and affection to. When delta showed signs of depression stemming from her jealousy that I was spending more time with the cats, I understood this and took the time to reassure her that I still loved her. She would become happy again.

While it may be true, to a limited extent, that animals do not think like us, it is also false. Long before I began rescuing cats, I was studying them, learning from them. Cats, dogs, horses and most every other animal species are not only able to reason things out, but they also think in the abstract. Like the dog who played a prank on another dog who was a bully. He laid his bone a hairs breadth beyond the bully dogs reach and sat there laughing while the bully dog strained over and over trying to reach it. And yes, animals DO laugh. I have watched my dog laugh when playing. I have a cat that loves to jump onto the arm of my computer chair, then flip over it to land on his back with his head hanging out under the arm. He then brings his hind feet up and kicks the under side of the arm fiercely. When I catch him doing this, I gently spin the chair in circles, reaching out to tickle him each time the chair front faces me. He will throw his head back and open his mouth wide in a silent laugh, then look me in the eye and do it again. Just like a kid laughing on the merry go round.

The next time your pet does something that baffles you, try asking yourself, after considering everything that happened, if you were the pet and in the same situation, how would you react to whatever it was? People tend to get frustrated when their pet refuses a tasty morsel, or ignores them when they call. If we have a right to like some foods and dislike others, should not our pets have this same right? I raised my dog, Delta, to think for herself. If I would accept her disobeying me and not returning to the house as I talked to an intruder, (she went a few feet away and lay down and watched us), then I must accept her choice to disobey me when I wanted her to chase the horses on a very hot day, and she chose to stay in the shade instead.

Many people claim cats are aloof and not affectionate. I have 17 cats right now. Sometimes I actually wish cats were a bit more aloof...but mine are not. Every single one of my cats, all 17 of them, treat me as if they simply can't get enough of me. As soon as I sit down I am swamped in cats. Where ever I go they are my shadows. They talk constantly to me and snuggle close at night. They do this because I am their mother, even the cats I rescued as adults. Wolfie does not love to be snuggled or held close, yet he adores being petted, scratched and playing games. He often crawls under the blankets to sleep close to me. Whatever room I am in, that is the room he is in. I accept what he does not like and give him what he does like. I accept all my cats on their own terms, just like I would any human friend. The more freedom I give them to be themselves, the more I am rewarded with their overwhelming affection.

Whatever your pet is, learn as much about them as you can in research. Study and observe them. Ask yourself how you would treat that pet if it were a human. Give your pets the freedom to be who and what they are, and avoid attempting to force them to be what you want them to be. Our pets are our friends and companions, treat them with the love and respect they deserve. They are like little children. It is our responsibility to raise them in a safe and loving environment. It is not our responsibility to force them to be who and what they were never meant to be.

The key to understanding your pets is in understanding yourself and human nature, because our pets are not that very different from us.


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  • tlmcgaa70 profile image

    tlmcgaa70 5 years ago from south dakota, usa

    good morning Mary...sometimes when we love an animal deeply and we lose it, you will hear people say, dont be silly, it was just an animal. they can never understand how "just an animal" can cause us so much pain when we lose them. the bogger dog in the picture above was my beloved Delta Dawn, who died this last Jan. one day before my birthday and one month before she would have turned 10 yrs old. we were deeply bonded, even reading each others minds sometimes. i could think "hug me or i want a hug" and she would jump up and hug me. she would look at me and i would just know what she was wanting or needing. i helped her into this world and i laid beside her as she left it so she would not be alone. so i do know what you are feeling right now, and i wish i could make this time easier for you. sadly only time can heal such grief. thank you for coming and readin and commenting. and i appreciate the share. may your day be full of comfort.

  • mary615 profile image

    Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

    Of course we should treat our pets as family! They are a part of our family, and when something happens to one of them, we feel the pain. I often wonder just why we feel the need to have pets, whether dogs of cats. They simply add to our lives with love and true devotion, I voted this Hub UP and will share.

  • tlmcgaa70 profile image

    tlmcgaa70 5 years ago from south dakota, usa, i know, right? seriously tho, at one time i had 20, and i decided that that was the most that i could have at any given time, any more and i would not be able to care for them properly. thank GOD i live out in the country and my neighbors dont care what i do. my neighbor to the right is also a cat lover as well as a dog lover. anyway hope all is well with you, take care and have a great day.

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

    You have 17 cats, tlm? Wow! Don't adopt any more, m'dear, or soon neighbors will be referring to you as the woman who runs a 'cat house.' Heh, heh. Just kiddin'.

  • tlmcgaa70 profile image

    tlmcgaa70 5 years ago from south dakota, usa

    Au fait...they surely do have individual personalities, just like us. that and their intelligence makes them wonderful companions. thank you for the votes.

    Kashmir56...i myself have often thought that animals displayed more intelligence and a purer love than many humans and it would be beneficial to us to emulate them more. animals can learn our language even if they cant speak it, tho some do try and some can. we on the other hand, cannot understand theirs...we can only guess at the meanings and imitate the sounds.thank you for your votes.

    i wish you both to have a wonderful day.

  • kashmir56 profile image

    Thomas Silvia 5 years ago from Massachusetts

    Great well written hub, i have never treated my dog like a human because she was much smarter than most humans i have met . But just think if people loved each other the way dogs love people,what a awesome world this would be .

    Vote up and more !!!

  • Au fait profile image

    C E Clark 5 years ago from North Texas

    I grew up on a farm, and I learned early that animals, like people, each have their own personalities and dispositions. Their intelligence varies too, just like that of people. And yes, they are very capable of conniving and figuring things out. Great hub and I enjoyed reading it. Voting you up and awesome!