When I look into the eyes of my dog, my cat or any other animal, I do not see an “animal”. I see a living being like me, a friend, a soul who feels, who knows about affections and fears and who deserves the same respect as any person.
The power of a gaze transcends far beyond the sense of sight. As amazing as it may seem, our optic nerves are intimately linked to the hypothalamus, that delicate and primitive structure where our emotions and memory are located . Whoever looks feels, and this is something that animals also experience.
If the eyes are the window to the soul, something tells me that animals also have it, because only they know how to speak with that language that does not need words: it is the language of affection and the most sincere respect.
All of us have ever experienced the following: go to adopt a dog or a cat, and suddenly establish a very intense connection with one in particular by looking into their eyes.Without knowing how, they captivate and trap us. However, scientists tell us that there is something deeper and more interesting than all this.
We invite you to discover it with us.
The eyes of animals, a very old connection
Two of the animals that have been used to living with man for thousands of years are dogs and cats. No one is surprised by the wise, yet brazen way they interact with us. They stare into our eyes and are capable of expressing desires and needs through all kinds of cuddles, gestures, tail movements and various complicities.
We have harmonized behaviors and languages until we understand each other, and this is not a casual act. Rather, it is the result of a genetic evolution where some species have become used to living together, to benefit each other. Something that does not surprise us is what an interesting study carried out by the anthropologist Evan MacLean revealed to us: dogs and cats are very capable of reading our own emotions just by looking into our eyes.
Our pets are wise teachers of feelings. They can identify basic gestural patterns to associate with a certain emotion, and they almost never fail. However, this study also explains: people tend to establish a bond with our dogs and cats very similar to the one we build with a young child.
We raise them, care for them and establish a bond as strong as if it were another member of the family, something that as amazing as it may seem, has been fostered by our biological mechanisms after so many years of mutual interaction.
Our neural networks and brain chemistry react in the same way as if we were taking care of a child or a person in need of attention: we release oxytocin, the hormone of affection and care. In turn, they too act in the same way: we are their social group, their pack, those complacent humans with whom we share the sofa and the seven lives of a cat.