‘Compassion for animals is intimately connected with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.’ –Schopenhauer


Babies can readily differentiate pet dogs and cats from “life-like” battery-operated toy dogs and cats. Babies will smile at, hold, follow, and make sounds in response to the live animals more than in response to the toys. In one study, 9 month olds were more interested in a live rabbit than an adult female stranger or a wooden turtle. A 1989 study of 2- to 6-year-olds with animals in their classrooms showed that children ignored realistic stuffed animals (80% never looked at them), but that live animals - especially dogs and birds - captured the attention of the children. Seventy-four percent touched the dog, 21% kissed the dog, and more than 66% talked to the bird.

Living with pets seems to stimulate children’s learning about basic biology. In one study, Japanese researchers showed that kindergarteners who had cared for pet goldfish better understood unobservable biological traits of their goldfish, and gave more accurate answers to questions like “does a goldfish have a heart?” (…)

When asked to name the 10 most important individuals in their lives, 7- and 10-year-olds on average included 2 pets.

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