Why Are Dogs and Cats So Cute?

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If excited puppy tail-wagging and furry kitten yawns make you swoon, you're not alone. As humans, we've long had a fascination with our furry companions and their adorable ways. But, why? Why are cats so cute and why are dogs so cute? What's behind our attraction to our pets? Let's dig into why are cats so cute and the reasons why we find our dogs simply irresistible.

What Research Says About Pet Cuteness

Some days, it feels like our pets can do no wrong. When your puppy stares at you with those big eyes after chewing up your shoe, it's hard to stay upset for long. Ditto for kittens. That scratch on the couch seems like nothing when it's followed by a playful purr and a plump belly presented for tickles.

Litter of Terrier Mix Puppies Lying in Dog Bed Outside on Wooden Deck.

According to The Dog People, many of the physical attributes of your pet trigger feelings of admiration and a realization of their cuteness. It's those oversized heads relative to body size, big eyes, round ears, floppy tails and ears and rounded body shapes that make us grin from ear to ear.

Breeds that exhibit several of these features are known to be extra cute. Think of a kitten: The big doe eyes on a round head that overshadows a slender growing body make us smile. And, who can pass by a dog with floppy ears and a wagging tail as they peer at you lovingly?

Although physical features catch our attention, it's the emotions bubbling up inside us that really seal the deal when it comes to feeling all gushy over our pets, according to a New York Times report. We link those cute body shapes with the same impression of youth, vulnerability and defenselessness that arise when we see a baby. As a pet parent, you satisfy the needs of your pet (your baby), creating a bond that amplifies your love and the cuteness perception of your pet.

Close-up of an orange kitten with big godlen eyes.

Are Some Pets Cuter Than Others?

So, why are dogs and cats so cute? Is one type of animal cuter than the other? Not necessarily. Any animal, regardless of breed of gender, can trigger that nod back to babies. Simply put, youthful infantile creatures trigger the heart-melting hormones that we also enjoy when seeing a baby smile.

According to Independent, we are biologically programmed to like human babies so that we will care for them and keep the population going. When it comes to pets, if they have baby-like mannerisms and features, we find them extra adorable and want to dote on them. This is why chunky baby leg rolls and a wrinkly pug puppy both make our hearts go pitter-patter!

This innate attraction to cute features leads us to want to be with and care for our pets, much like we would a human baby. Bottom line: pets play on our natural instincts to love babies. In turn, this helps us admire and nurture our pets.

Sharing personal moments with our pets, where we pay attention to their features, actions and reactions, helps our brains release hormones that make us feel good, creating a cycle of happiness as pet parents. So, go ahead and stare lovingly into your cat or dog's eyes. Watch as they play in the yard or on the living room floor. Would you describe their features as cute? Are you smiling? It's pretty amazing how we process visual cues from our pets, making us feel all gooey inside!

Contributor Bio

Angela Tague

Angela Tague

Angela Tague is a pet mom and writer living in the Midwest. When she's not making a mess in the kitchen, exploring nature trails with her dog, or attending a yoga workshop, she's writing full-time for multiple lifestyle and technology brands. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn @AngelaTague.