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Can you ask my animals if they love me?

“Can you ask my animals if they love me?” is a common question I receive from clients. It is one of those questions that always surprises me. “Can’t you tell?” I wonder to myself, while realizing there are times I take my gift for granted.

I would like to say that everyone’s pets loved them, but, unfortunately, some animals merely tolerate their people while wishing their lives with their humans were more active, more healthy, more peaceful, or more fun. In my experience people gauge love by how much an animal touches their human, how excited the animal appears to be when their person arrives home, and how close the animal sits to their human. These are sure signs your animal loves you, but not all animals express their love in these ways.

I know what people want. There is no doubt that Stormy, my Australian shepherd, loves every person he meets. He wags his body, he looks endearingly into a stranger’s eyes, he rests his head on people’s knees, and he looks mournful when they leave. I have watched strangers break into a smile when Stormy meets their eyes.

But I know other animals whose bodies are in pain so they restrain themselves from getting up to greet their humans. I know animals that love their people, but get headaches, so they sit in the dark instead of sitting in the general vicinity of their humans. I know animals that feel so dignified that they would rather exhibit independence. Though you might not know it, these same animals have heartfelt gratitude for their people’s kindness.

Every animal shows his or her love differently. If the animals do not have personalities like Stormy’s, how do we know if they love us? My animals may contribute their thoughts to this topic:

Makia

Makia my cat says, “If one of my humans friends that I love is sad I appear in the room with them. I won’t necessarily go to them but I will walk into the room so they don’t feel alone.”

Serafina

Serafina my cat says, “I think people should have company when they eat. So I go to them when they are eating. Sometimes I rush to the door when they come into the house, but if they are busy in their heads, they may not notice.”

Joey Joe and Serafina in back

Joey my cat says, “I think people should look for eye contact. Even if your animal is far away they may look at you when you are thinking about something important. They may just say with a glance, ‘I understand. You are not alone and I agree with you.’”

Stormy

Stormy says, “Sometimes, with my friend Lynda, I will say, ‘Let’s walk today,’ and then we will just go be together, and I listen to what she has to say. If you can’t hear me you would have no idea I am listening. You would think I am just sniffing gopher holes. So sometimes animals are talking to you and listening even though you are clueless of that fact. Ask them to give you a sign. I usually look at Lynda for a moment to let her know I heard her.”

Beanie

Bean, my bunny, says, “Sometimes I want to bite people cause I am scared. Usually I tell people I love them by trying extra hard not to bite them. I may freeze and look at them with one ear tilted forward and one ear back. If I really like you I will run and kick my butt out. You know how much I love by how much fun I look like I am having in your presence.”


Maia

Maia, my wolf dog in heaven says, “This is a good test of whether your pet loves you or not. Find a time when your pet is comfortably lying down relaxing. Go into the same room as them and sit down. Be respectful of their space. Do not sit too close. Close your eyes and meditate. If your pet stays relaxed and comfortable then they love you. If your pet leaves the room, then you have some work to do in improving your relationship with your animal. You will then need to ask yourself, ‘What does my pet need that I am not giving them?’”

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13 thoughts on “Can you ask my animals if they love me?”

  1. It made me laugh to read what Bean said. Bunny is the same way. He’ll run and kick his legs out to the side when he’s really happy. So cute!

    Maia always gives such wonderful advice.

  2. Alene LaDelle Brown

    I know Buddy understands me because when I’m picturing him and calling his
    name and make motions for him to come to me he usually does. He often gets on the coffee table and wants to get into my lap and have me hold him. Sometimes I think he needs and wants to play more, but I cant do that for him and feel bad for him and tell him.
    This morning for the first time in a long time Sonny came from the coffee table and sat next to me on the couch. He often looks at me from the middle of the room like he ‘s trying to say something to me. I often tell them I love them.
    i wish I could “speak cat” so they could communicate with me. But I”m pretty sure they understand me. Buddy goes off by himself fairly often tho and that
    bothers me some. I think its time to have a conversation with Laura – soon.

  3. I find this to be a very interesting subject, Laura, I am glad that you brought it up. I have never questioned in the past about the love my animals had for me, it was always so obvious that we shared love and a close bond. But that was one of the questions I had you come out to ask my Quarter Horse, Wrangler, a couple of years ago. Wrangler had a very rough past, and when I bought him he was very fearful and untrusting. After 4 years of ownership, I still could not tell if Wrangler felt love for me. He seemed to tolerate me, was still fearful of many things and at time would move away from me – even if I hadn’t done anything. He is not a demonstrative horse like many of the others at the ranch where I keep him: other horses nicker and whinny when they see their owners, associating them with good things. Wrangler always walks to the gate of his stall to come and greet me when I arrive to see him, but never nickers or whinnies. If he hears a startling noise when he is with me, sometimes he looks at me and spooks – like it is my fault.

    When you spoke with Wrangler, he told you “how could she not know that I love her? Of course I do.” I was glad to hear it, but it still took two more years for Wrangler to settle in and show his affection. I have now had him in my life for 6 years, and I really feel that Wrangler feels comfortable with me and loves me as much as he is able to. He doesn’t hold me accountable for all the scary sounds at the ranch as much anymore, and he asks for kisses on his face quite often when we are together.

    I appreciate your role in my relationship with Wrangler, and your ability to connect with him and communicate with me as well. Thank you!

    Anne

  4. Laura,
    I had a dog a long time ago who would stay quietly with me in the room and then whenever I decided to meditate, which I did every day, he would leave the room and go in a bedroom. I know he loved me. It was something about meditation. They say you should meditate in a room without animals because they absorb so much. Maybe he knew that I was thinking that at some point. Who knows. Maybe he was being courteous or maybe it made him too sleepy.

    1. That is a good point Nancy! Maybe Maia meant that is the case for animals that do not outwardly show their people that they love them. I agree with you mediation can be intense for some animals.

      Maybe also Maia had in consideration that the animal would know why you were mediating with them.

  5. Vixen always sits next to my chair while I’m eating, so I found Serafina’s comments interesting! My mother always thought Vixen was begging, and would stop eating, cut up some of whatever kind of meat she was eating, and put it in Vixen’s bowl. But I don’t believe in feeding pets while you’re eating, so I wait until I’m finished, then either give her a little meat or let her lick the sauce off the plate. Sometimes she doesn’t want it, so she must’ve just been being polite and sitting with me while I ate! Does Serafina like to have company while she eats?

    1. sweet vixen! Serafina answers your question, “Yes, I like to know that the other cats in the house are eating too. But I dont like them too close to me or in my food area. I like to eat in the same spot other wise I feel strange. No one tries to steal my food so that is good. I used to live in a home where other animals pushed me away.”

  6. Cami, my Goldie/Sheltie cross, lets me know lots of things. She tells me she loves me by always jumping up on my lap when I settle into the recliner to read. But if I don’t pay attention to her, she’ll leave. She is very smart and independent, so sometimes she will ignore my commands if they don’t suit her at the moment. But she will always jump to attention at 10 p.m., even run in from the other room, when she hears me open the front door for her last walk of the day. She also tells me that she still misses her friend Lynda, who was so special to her when Cami and I first met.

  7. I know my kitties love me very much and I know Jack my 6 month old loves me but gets distracted by play when I try to hold him sometimes. Damian my 5 year old and I are very close but sometimes he gets mad at me and I dont know why or what to do to make him feel better but I know my boys love me very much because they both run to greet me and spend most of their time on me or around me. It is interesting how animals view love and I think people forget that animals are more like humans than we’d like to admit sometimes. I also love what Beanie the bunny said about how he shows love by trying not to bite. That’s just so adorable and sounds so childlike and innocent. 🙂

  8. I think it’s great that Maia brought up the suggestion to meditate with your pet(s) – One of my cats often sits in the space left when I sit Indian-style. He’ll remain there purring. I’m thankful that all of my animals have been very affectionate. I had a Doberman when I was younger who was extremely special to me. He once caught a gopher that had been poisoned, so he was as well. I remember sitting on the floor next to him, feeding him baby food as he was recovering, and the look of unspoken love and gratitude is something I’ll never forget. I also know that he was aware how much he was loved. Thank you for posting this. Incredibly heartwarming, as well as thought-provoking. 🙂

  9. My former cat, Joan-cat, used to sit up next to me as if she were meditating with me. My current cat, Lucy, prefers to play with the mala beads. Cats each have their own personalities!

    Last summer, one of my friend’s cats had been quite sick at the vet’s office and after he came home, I was over for a visit. I petted him and told him how happy I was that he was feeling better. At one point he sat up looking in my direction and just closed his eyes. My friend said, “Look, he’s beaming love to you!” and he was! I could feel it.

    Joan-cat used to communicate in words and sentences. The first time I experienced this was when I was just waking up one morning. I was sick and had fallen asleep on the couch. Joan-cat was concerned and she said “Anything you want, I’ll do it for you.” Now, she was vocalizing out loud with “mews” and at the same time I got those words via my “inner voice” so it was unmistakable communication from her.

    I laughed because I thought, what can a cat do? She can’t go make me a cup of tea! But I was lying on my stomach and one thing Joan-cat was good at was back massage – all four paws would massage my back. So, I said, “Okay, how about a back massage!” and she jumped up and gave me a back massage.

    She lived to be almost 20 years old and once she started getting older, I worried how I’d live without her and dreaded what suffering she might have to go through in the process of dying. I told her I loved her so much and I knew she loved me, but I didn’t want her to suffer, so if it ever got to a point where it was too much, she shouldn’t worry about me missing her. She should feel free to let go and move on. And she said back to me, “Don’t be ridiculous! How could it ever be too much trouble to love you?!”

    I learned a lot from her about love. It’s just that simple. People seem to make it difficult. Love alleviates suffering, and love is more important than physical circumstances.

    I know Lucy loves me. She picked me out as her person when I volunteered at the Friends of County Animal Shelters adoption site. She doesn’t send me inner words like Joan-cat did (not yet anyway) but she’s very communicative.

    One of our first interactions was in the room of cat cages where they used to let all the cats out to play. Lucy was on the floor with about a dozen cats and she’s very petite compared to most cats. I think she just felt overwhelmed and started to hiss and growl. I picked her up by the scruff of her neck, supporting her with my other hand underneath to put her back up in her cage – her own territory – where she could feel safe. Still very stressed, she opened her mouth to bite my arm as I carried her, but she only tapped her teeth on my arm and didn’t chomp down. I was impressed by what seemed like extraordinary self-control and restraint, even thoughtfulness and gentleness on her part, for a cat who was freaking out! Now, maybe she had been trained in a foster home not to bite – I’ve heard sometimes people put hot pepper on their arm to teach a cat not to bite(?) – but I thought it was unusually kind of her to stop herself from biting when that’s really what she wanted to do.

    At any rate, I think she was pleasantly surprised that I was acting to help her feel safe. (When I first got her, she hated being picked up and held – I think it represented people overwhelming her and forcing her into situations beyond her control.)

    When I came to the adoption site for my volunteer shift, she was always happy to see me. I rationalized that all the cats were happy to see me, but then I noticed that wasn’t necessarily the case. Some of them just stayed sleeping in their cages! Then, I noticed while cleaning the litter boxes, as I moved down the line of cages, Lucy moved with me. She plopped down next to my feet and when I moved over, she moved over, too, and stayed with me, ignoring all the other cats playing on the floor.

    She’s very playful, gregarious and outgoing with people – almost dog-like in her personality, and she would visit with people who came in to check out the cats, but only briefly and then she’d come back over to me. I began to get the hint. Everyone, without fail, commented on how beautiful she was – she is amazing – but in 3 months time, nobody adopted her! So, I did.

    As far as communicating, she has an amazing variety of vocalizations, from a pitiful high pitched mew, for “Please can I have some cat food now?” (while standing next to the container of cat food, rubbing her face on the spoon I used to scoop it out) to “prrrrp” which means affection, happiness and sometimes laughter, to an emphatic “me-OW-ow” – “I really mean it!” standing by the door when she wants me to open it so she can go downstairs and she’s already asked me twice and gotten no response!

    How do I know she loves me? She’s very affectionate. She gives me cat kisses. She smiles with her eyes at me, that little cat blink that means “I love you.” Sometimes while I’m at the computer, on her path down from her cat bed on top of my printer, she’ll stop by, put her paw on my shoulder and nuzzle a little bit before she jumps down to the floor. She’s amazingly expressive and communicative. Sometimes I think she’s a human who got zapped by some magic wand and turned into a cat! I don’t understand people who say that cats are aloof or not affectionate.

    I think we teach our animals how to treat us. I’ve always treated my animals gently. I never drop a cat but always lean down to put them on the floor. Compared to a cat, a human being is a skyscraper! Especially with a new cat, I give them my hand to sniff and rub, letting them give me permission to pet them. I’m respectful of their needs and wishes – although, it’s true, I’m learning all the time and often make mistakes because of things I don’t understand yet. I’m affectionate and loving with them and I think that establishes trust and gives them permission to behave affectionately with me in return.

  10. Dorothy A. Prairie

    My dogs love me and each express it differently. One is by my side constantly and is touching my leg or my arm. The other one is a very private dog, very dignified, with huge brown eyes. We communicate by making eye contact when we are stressed, when we are happy, when we need to know the other is near. I tell her I can see an angel in her eyes and she looks deep into mine and I know she loves me.

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