Those who say it’s just an animal don’t get that pets are people too: 8 reasons why empaths share a deep bond with animals

woman posing with her small dog in front of a hedge

Empaths share a deep bond with animals – one that’s built on understanding, care and unconditional love.

With your unique ability to genuinely feel what others feel, you’re uniquely positioned to develop a deep understanding of your animal companions.

Being around people all day is tiring (even when it’s fun) and as an empath, you need to switch off from picking up on everyone else’s emotions and energy.

Animals have a wonderful grounding effect on empaths.

They can help you reconnect with the natural world, offer you a space where you aren’t being judged on external appearances and give you unconditional love.

Being in the presence of animals is a great way for empaths to escape hectic daily work and life and we tend to be drawn to domestic and wild animals alike.

Not every empath is the same.

And not every empath will feel drawn to animals or have pets.

But I’ve found it to be very common among empaths to feel a strong connection to animals. I’ve also seen how empathic children are drawn to animals and have a deep curiosity and desire to be around them.

I was like that as a child – if I’d have gotten my way our house would have been full of animals – and now my sensitive and highly empathic daughter has that same drive to connect with animals on a profound level.

When our new cats arrived they spent the first day hiding in the sauna and our daughter was right there with them.

At just 4 years old she set herself up as a conduit and a shield between them and their new environment, carrying in food and treats to them, sitting quietly near them without touching them and talking softly with them, explaining that this was now their new house, that’s mom and that’s dad, there’s no need to be afraid because our home is a nice home.

And while she had the option at any time to stop sitting with the cats and to go play or do something else, she chose to sit with them for hours, even long after mom and dad tired of sitting there.

1) Animals offer what most people don’t

I think that the attraction for an empath is that animals don’t judge you on external things, like being withdrawn or quiet – being introspective and observant is an advantage when being around animals.

They don’t care how much you make what dress size you wear.

They only care about your energy – and as I’ve said repeatedly, energy is everything to empaths.

They don’t make you jump through complicated social hoops and show you honestly whether they trust you or not.

That makes communication with them easier than with people.

Explaining things doesn’t help, centering yourself and using energy is key.

Once you’ve established a bond of trust with an animal, they give you all of themselves and accept you unconditionally – they will be with you because they wish to or not at all.

And with animals, you don’t have to be worried about your kindness or loyalty being abused. This only makes your bond stronger.

2) Animals are a chance to connect with nature

Whether you’re taking your dog for a walk or watching your cat napping in the sun, animals are a little piece of nature in your home and in your life.

When you’re an empath, escaping into the natural world is important for reconnecting with yourself and absorbing the healing energy nature offers.

Being around water, having picnics or simply enjoying a walk are all important ways for you to press your reset button and detox from everything.

Animals are a great way to reconnect and live in the now.

3) Empaths tend to understand animals better than they do people

The people who say “it’s just an animal” don’t get what empaths instinctively know: pets are people too.

And by that I mean that they have thoughts, feelings and boundaries too, which they communicate clearly to us and which we need to respect as we would respect another person’s.

In my experience people will often simplify and interpret an animal’s communication through a layer of personification; superimposing their human experience on that of the animal and interpreting their signals as if they were communicating human needs.

Such as when my cousin was visiting recently, and his dog wandered anxiously around the table while we were eating. His nervous energy stemmed more from being in a new place with unclear boundaries, than it did from a desire to eat.

Yet, my godmother interpreted his communication through her own human lens and slipped him some food – to the dismay of the rest of the table. Rewarding his dog for that behaviour or teaching him to beg was not what my cousin wanted.

She defended her actions by saying that he’s so sad that he’s being left out while the rest of us were eating – and by extension inferring that somehow getting to share a tiny bite of the food would remedy that.

You get that there’s always more going on than meets the eye.

You understand that it’s about slowing down and really opening up all your senses to catch everything that animals are communicating.

The flick of an ear, the slight lowering of a tail, the energy with which you get up – true understanding lies in picking up on all the cues you’re being shown.

Most people don’t spend a lot of time observing themselves, let alone their pets.

So, is it any wonder that they miss most of what’s being said?

Like when you see dog owners walking dogs that haven’t been trained and will start barking and challenging anything that comes their way, especially other dogs.

When the owner pulls the dog back and sternly yells at them ‘no’ or ‘stop that’ but the dog is giving no sign of even having heard them, let alone understood the command.

When they meet another dog around the next corner, you can hear the angry yapping a mile away.

Being truly in-tune with what animals are communicating takes education.

If you don’t understand the species-specific cues of an animal – dogs and cats communicate very differently for instance – you won’t be able to accurately interpret what’s going on.

Your ability to sense moods and interpret energy will definitely help you when you do decide to educate yourself on the species and (maybe even more importantly) the individual that your animal companion is.

4) Animals are great teachers

I believe that certain animals come into our lives at specific times. They bring with them lessons that we need to learn.

And if we can be humble enough, we can learn a lot from our animals.

They’re the great masters of living in the present and not making any plans for a tomorrow that may never come.

Alongside strong survival instincts animals also love to play and interact with others – animals and humans alike.

Watching them conduct their lives with bravery, joy and compassion is heartwarming and humbling.

Being ‘let in’ by an animal companion is a great honour and a wonderfully grounding experience for empaths.

Sharing your life with an animal is a great way to bring a sense of primal survival into your life – and it’s also a chance for you to teach that animal new ways of behaving and interacting with the world that they couldn’t learn without the help of a human.

If animals had their way, they’d just eat and sleep their way through life, it’s thanks to you that they have an opportunity to experience so much more in life.

I have lived with several Zen masters – all of them cats.

– Eckhart Tolle

5) Sharing your life with animals is a form of mindfulness

Learning how to ground yourself in the present moment is something only humans struggle with. Because it’s only humans that have the ability to worry about things that haven’t even happened yet.

And going through the daily routines to care for your animal, can be approached almost like a monastic mindfulness exercise.

Moving through the necessary life tasks like feeding and cleaning, while giving all of your attention to the task you’re performing in that moment.

It’s also satisfying to an empath because it feeds your desire to take care of others.

I especially love to learn more about the animals in my care and really zone in on providing for their species-specific needs.

Seeing them thrive under the most optimal care I can provide is incredibly satisfying.

Studies show how animals can have positive effects on:

  • anxiety,
  • pain,
  • blood pressure and heart rate,
  • learning,
  • overall health,
  • cortisol levels (which contribute to stress),
  • oxytocin levels (the happiness hormone).

Being around animals makes you feel less stressed and more happy. And when petting your own critter you can see how they visibly enjoy it and know that it’s releasing oxytocin in both you and them.

6) Animals are very affectionate

Feeling naturally drawn to and connected to animals, being offered care and compassion in return is very satisfying.

When an animal is happy to see you and eager to interact with you, you know you’re doing something right.

And what’s more enjoyable than the pure affection of an animal?

They can’t be coerced to give offection that they don’t feel, so you know it’s honest when it’s given.

And when you build a deep bond with an animal, it’s one of the most wonderful feelings to know that they’re willingly sharing your company, your love and an understanding of each other.

Since animals communicate in such a straightforward manner, it can also be a great way to be social but get away from socialising with other people, which can often be overwhelming and confusing for sensitive souls like empaths.

Animals don’t need you to talk, they simply listen, and allow you to just be.

It’s the ultimate form of company, and perfect when you need to just switch off and relax.

One of my favourite things is to sit on the porch with a tea or coffee and enjoy the sound of the chickens scratching in the yard. (I can’t wait to have a yard again!)

7) Animals need help and protection

All over the world there are animals in distress and in need of help.

Not only has modern human lifestyles had a drastic impact on the planet and our environment, but animals are mismanaged everywhere.

Being involved in animal rescues, volunteering at centres, fostering rescues, rehabilitating animals with injuries or behavioural issues can be very rewarding when you’re an empath.

Those kinds of animals are long-term projects and require consistent commitment which probably suits you just fine since you like to go deep on topics.

As an empath, you could even make a great owner for more unusual pets that have special needs and requirements.

Getting stuck in and doing your part for the planet is also a great way to help both animals and the environment heal.

Working for the good of those who cannot protect themselves is hard but satisfying work.

And the more people we have working to make life greener and more sustainable, to help heal this rock that we’re flying through space on, the sooner we’ll have results and the better they’ll be.

8) Animals can be drawn to you

Usually, people who are calm and confident around animals will naturally attract animals to them.

When you’re prone to hang back and observe you’re actually giving the animal both the space and the choice to come and get to know you better.

People who rush straight in and start petting and fussing over animals completlely ignore the animal’s boundaries – this has more often then not caused a lot of “behavioural issues” in the animal (who is simply trying to communicate that their boundaries have been crossed).

As an empath you’ll share a deep understanding with animals of how stressful and overwhelming it can be when people barge past all your personal boundaries.

Giving animals space and respect – and the chance to approach you in a calm and curious manner – comes naturally to you.

You can enjoy the comany of animals even if you don’t have a pet.

Stopping to notice and admire the wildlife in your area when you’re out for a walk is a great way to enjoy the presence of animals.

Deer in a meadow, birds singing in a tree, squirrels fighting over a territory or a hedgehog wandering into your garden in hopes of a snack are all creatures that share your environment with you.

If you don’t have many wild animals nearby, there are always plenty of shelters that need an extra pair of hands to walk dogs or help clean out cat enclosures.

It’s the perfect way to be around animals and be helpful at the same time.

You can also travel to locations that support the animals in that environment, so the next time you’re planning a holiday, see if you can find an animal-centric destination!