Oxytocin is often referred to as the “love hormone” or “bonding hormone” because it is associated with social bonding, trust, and positive social interactions. People who are in love have elevated oxytocin levels when they see their loved ones.
Determining the exact nature of love or affection in animals is challenging due to differences in how different species express emotions and bond with humans.
Dogs and cats have different ways of expressing affection and forming bonds with their owners, and these differences can make it challenging to definitively state that one species loves their owner more than the other.
Dogs are known for their social nature and loyalty. They often display overt signs of attachment, such as wagging their tails, following their owners around, and seeking physical contact. Dogs have been bred over centuries to work alongside humans and are often referred to as “man’s best friend” for their strong bonds with people.
Dogs tend to show more obvious signs of attachment and loyalty to their human owners than cats do. Some studies have shown that dogs’ oxytocin levels rise after interacting with their owners, indicating a positive emotional response.
When humans and dogs engage in positive interactions, such as playing, petting, or cuddling, both species experience an increase in oxytocin levels.
Several studies have used non-invasive methods such as urine or blood samples to measure oxytocin levels in dogs before and after interactions with their owners. These studies have found that oxytocin levels tend to increase after positive interactions, suggesting a positive emotional response to the presence of their owners.
Cats are often considered more independent and less overtly social compared to dogs. This doesn’t necessarily mean that cats don’t form attachments to their owners or experience positive emotions. While they may not display the same exuberant behaviors as dogs, many cat owners can attest to their feline companions showing affection in their own unique ways. Cats may purr, knead, or curl up beside their owners, which can also be signs of attachment.
Research shows that cats also have elevated oxytocin levels after interacting with familiar humans. But a cat’s oxytocin level rises less than a dog’s:
On average, the dogs produced 57.2% oxytocin — humans produce 50% or more when we really, really love someone — while the cats only produced about 12%. That’s less than the 15-25% humans produce after a pleasant exchange with a stranger.https://www.elledecor.com/life-culture/fun-at-home/news/a8245/cats-vs-dogs-love/
Furthermore, only 50% of the cats studied produced any oxytocin at all.
Both species have unique ways of forming connections with humans, and the depth of these connections can vary from individual to individual.
Each animal has its own individual personality, and their expressions of affection and attachment can vary widely. Some cats may be more demonstrative in their affections, while some dogs might be more reserved. Comparing the love between dogs and cats is a complex matter, and it’s essential to respect and appreciate the different ways each species interacts with humans.
It’s important to appreciate and respect the unique qualities of each species and the relationships that humans share with their beloved pets.
Ultimately, the depth of the bond between a pet and its owner is a personal and subjective experience, influenced by the unique dynamics of the relationship and the individual characteristics of the animal.