There is a growing body of scientific evidence supporting the existence of emotions in non-human animals. Companion animal owners show a strong connection and attachment to their animals and readily assign emotions to them. In this paper we present information on how the attachment level of companion animal owners correlates to their attribution of emotions to their companion cat or dog, and the owners’ attribution of mirrored emotions. The results of an online questionnaire (n=1023) distributed amongst Dutch speaking cat and/or dog owners (mainly in the Netherlands and Belgium) suggest that companion animal owners attributed several emotions to their pets. Our findings suggest that respondents attributed all posited basic (anger, joy or happiness, fear, surprise, disgust and sadness) and complex (shame, jealousy, disappointment and compassion) emotions to their companion animals, with a general trend towards basic emotions (with the exception of sadness) being more commonly attributed to companion animals than complex emotions. All pet owners showed strong attachment to their companion animal(s), with the degree of attachment (of both cat and dog owners) varying significantly with education level and gender. Owners that ascribed human characteristics to their dog or cat also scored higher on the Pet Bonding Scale (PBS). Finally, owners who found it pleasant to pet their dog or cat had a higher average PBS score than those that do not like to do so. The relationship between the owner’s attribution of mirrored emotions and the degree of attachment to dogs was significant for all emotions, whilst for cats this relationship was significant only for joy, sadness, surprise, shame, disappointment and compassion.
|Goruchwyliwr||Chris Thomas (Goruchwylydd)|