Funny Bones and Bow-HAHA! Do Pets Have a Sense of Humor?
When was the last time you heard your pet LOL? Probably never, but you may have had moments when your cat or dog did something goofy and almost seemed to smile. This begs the question: do pets have a sense of humor? The team at Schertz Animal Hospital set out for answers, and here’s what we found!
The Amazing World of Animal Emotions
No longer do we consider pets to have a limited range of emotions. Research has found that animals can experience complex emotions, such as jealousy and embarrassment. They can also sense the emotions of their human companions.
What’s more, even before these studies took place, Charles Darwin was able to discern a connection between emotions and animal behavior. Recently, animal behaviorists have also determined that facial expressions and body language in animals change depending on whether they’re doing something they enjoy versus something they don’t like (for example, being scolded).
Do Pets Have a Sense of Humor?
We learned from our distant relatives (i.e., great apes) that laughter evolved as a mechanism of panting, often during play. For these animals, it was a signal to their peers they were engaging in friendly rough-housing, not aggression. At Bowling Green State University, Jaak Panksepp discovered that tickling the stomachs of rats elicited a noise that sounded very much like laughter.
In dogs, something similar occurs: when they pant, it can appear, both facially and audibly, like laughter. The response to their owners smiling at them can increase this behavior, which assumes it may have something to do with pleasing their owners.
But what about cats? You may have seen the squinting eyes your cat gives you when you arrive home or when you’re offering a good cuddle. Some owners claim they also hear a laughing sound when their cats are meowing or purring.
Consider the words of Marc Bekoff, a best-selling novelist and animal behaviorist: “If we have a sense of humor, then nonhuman animals should have a sense of humor, too.” The possibility, we think, is very real.
Have you had any experiences that make you wonder whether pets have a sense of humor? We’d love to hear about it. Simply tell us during your pet’s next appointment or comment on our Facebook page.
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Schertz Animal Hospital
Since 1976, Schertz Animal Hospital has offered the greater San Antonio area outstanding pet care. Our state-of-the-art animal hospital in Schertz, TX compliments our stress-free handling and experienced veterinary staff. Make an appointment online or give us a call at (210) 659-0345 today!