Why We're Suckers For Puppy (And Kitten) Love

For Valentine's Day, Salon is focusing on the love between humans and their pets, romances in which the perfect gift is dispensed from a bag of "Friskies" and chocolates are an absolute no.

The first article in the "Pet Week" series explains how cats, shunned by the movie industry, have claimed the Internet as their own. As author Sarah Hepola explains:

To be a cat person is something of a private affair. We don't meet at the park and throw sticks. We don't parade our animals down the block or stand around, chatting awkwardly while our pets sniff each others' rear ends. Whatever your cat does — the way he curls up like a croissant and snores, the way he pads frantically about the bed at 4:30 a.m., paw to your face — is largely between you and the torn furniture.

Ironically, the solitary nature of being a cat owner is exactly what drove people to catalogue their cat's every move and share it with the anonymous masses online. After achieving Internet meme infamy with LolCats, felines have gone on to be featured in numerous other websites, from Stuff on My Cat, to Cats That Look Like Hitler. The appeal of these sites (in addition to featuring adorable kitties) is that they let cat owners confirm that other people's cats do weird stuff all day too.

The second essay in the series claims that dog lovers have an entirely different psychological make up than cat lovers. Heather Havrilesky explains that since she is unable to play nicely with other humans, she turns to her dogs. Dogs, she says, fulfill her emotional needs in ways no human would tolerate:

You want me to smother my husband with kisses and bear hugs every night? I'd start to gross him out in a matter of weeks. You expect him to lick my feet and say, "Ri rove roo" when I hold a cookie over his head? I'd lose respect for him in less than a second. That's why I have subordinate pack animals around, so I can be bossy and demeaning to something that finds being bossed around and demeaned vaguely relaxing.

While all pets are stinky, get fur on everything, and will destroy your furniture, both dog and cat people know that even if it's embarassing to lay on the ground and play with your cat or kiss your dog in public, pets are just inherently lovable.

The Internet Is Made Of Kitties [Salon]
Praise Be To Dog [Salon]