In today’s guide, we are looking at the best small pets for cuddling, as well as how to choose and raise the most affectionate small pet possible!
- Small dogs and cats
- Small cuddly pets for families
- Best unusual cuddly pets
- How to choose the best small pets for cuddling
- Raising an affectionate pet
The best small pets for cuddling are affectionate and cute! But, despite their small size, their care needs and space requirements can often be surprising. So, it’s important to make sure the small cuddly pet you choose suits your lifestyle before committing. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular options and see which one is best for your home.
Best Small Pets for Cuddling
One of the nicest things about having a pet is the constant companionship. Especially when your pet is affectionate and loves to cuddle! In fact, some studies have even shown the importance of physical affection from pets in reducing owner stress levels. But, pets are a big responsibility. So, it’s important to choose the right one for you.
There are so many types of cuddly pets out there. Whether you want a traditional option, like a small dog or cat breed, or something more unusual like a bird. Just remember that all animals have individual personalities. So, even within pets that are known for being friendly, some will be more cuddly than others. You can increase the affection levels of your pet with the way you raise them. But, we’ll leave more tips about that at the end of this guide. For now, let’s look at the best small pets for cuddling!
Small Dogs and Cats
Dogs and cats are two of the most popular options when people are looking for cuddly and affectionate pets. Some people are put off by the size of these animals, but it’s possible to get small dogs and cats. In fact, some are small enough to live happily in apartments and cities. Dogs may need some exercise outside the house, but you can get creative in the ways you exercise your dogs and cats.
Small Cuddly Dogs
One of the best things about getting a dog is that there’s a breed for everyone. But, small dogs can have health problems linked to their size. And, even though they’re small, they’ll still need plenty of training, socialization, and exercise. They will also need lots of mental stimulation. So, they can be quite demanding as pets. They won’t suit homes where they’re left alone for long periods.
Here are some dog breeds to consider if you want a small pet for cuddling:
- Lhasa Apso
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Shih Tzu
- Border Terrier
Small Cuddly Cats
It’s a common myth that cats are more independent than dogs! In fact, there are plenty of cat breeds that won’t be happy unless they’re spending all of their time with you. Here are some breeds that are known for their affectionate and cuddly personalities:
- Scottish Fold
Ginger tabbies are also known for their loving, affectionate temperaments, but they aren’t a breed by themselves!
Best Fluffy Pets that Cuddle
Dogs and cats aren’t for everyone. Perhaps you’re renting an apartment that doesn’t allow them, or perhaps you just want something a little smaller and fluffier. Well, don’t panic, there are still plenty of options out there for you! Here are some fluffy and affectionate pets you might love.
Sugar gliders are small and popular marsupials. In fact, these little pets are so small that they can fit into a person’s pocket! They are affectionate, and will enjoy climbing on and cuddling against their owner. This is quite an exotic small pet. In some parts of the world, they are still more often found in zoos, but in the US, they are becoming common as a domestic pet.
However, because of their rarity as pets, it’s important to find a veterinarian who will be able to help with any problems that arise, and to do lots of research on proper care and habitat. Inappropriate husbandry, including diet and housing, can lead to health problems which could have otherwise been easily avoided.
Ferrets are highly social small, soft pets. They will love spending time with their people, but they do best living in groups or pairs. Ferrets will need a surprising amount of space, whether you’re keeping them in the home or in an enclosure outside. As long as you hold them a lot from a young age, ferrets will enjoy being cuddled, picked up and petted.
These little animals are also quite energetic and playful. They need plenty to stimulate their brains. They will enjoy items like tubes, balls, and other things to play with.
Small Cuddly Pets for Families
Families with children at home are often looking for small cuddly pets that their children can help to look after. Of course, it’s important to supervise young children when they’re helping with your pets, to ensure that no one gets hurt! Even small, friendly, and cuddly pets can bite when they get scared.
But, as long as petting and cuddles are gentle, the following pets can make great options for families.
Guinea pigs are social animals that do best living in pairs or groups. There are many different guinea pig breeds, so you can choose based on traits that suit your home best. Guinea pigs will need to be held regularly. They will enjoy eating tasty treats from your hands whilst sitting in your lap. But, if you stop holding them regularly, they could become more nervous when handled.
Rabbits, like many of the other cuddly pets on this list, are usually happiest living in pairs. They can be kept as housepets, or live in large spacious enclosures outside. They will enjoy eating yummy treats from your hands, and like guinea pigs, should be held regularly to ensure they are comfortable with this process.
Some of the friendliest rabbit breeds include the Himalayan, Lionhead rabbits, and Rex bunnies.
Hamsters are much smaller than many of the other pets on this list. Generally, they are happiest when living alone, but this can depend on the type of hamster you choose. Hamsters need a surprising amount of space, including plenty of safe substrates to dig and burrow into.
Children should be supervised when holding hamsters, since they are such small and fragile pets. But, when treated well, hamsters will reward their owners with plenty of affection and love!
Best Unusual Cuddly Pets
The pets so far on our list will suit a lot of homes. But, their care needs might not be right for everyone. And, perhaps you aren’t sure that they will be cuddly enough for you! Not every cuddly pet needs to be fluffy. Here are some more unusual options that have less fur, but just as much love to give.
Hedgehogs are another exotic pet that is becoming more common as time goes on. Well socialized hedgehogs tend to become very well-bonded to their owners. In fact, these little animals will even react to their owner’s voice! They need plenty of space and mental stimulation. Hedgehogs will need a balanced diet and daily handling.
However, because of their quills, these little animals aren’t best for families with children. Holding them can be quite painful if the angle is not quite right! And, you can’t risk dropping your pet. Some owners like to use gloves when handling their hedgehogs.
Rats are very social and very affectionate pets. They are happiest living in groups, and so they need plenty of space and opportunities to exercise and play. Rats love to be picked up and cuddled. They are also intelligent little pets that can be taught tricks!
Despite popular belief, rats are actually quite clean small pets, as long as they are looked after properly. But, it’s important to ensure you’re choosing the correct type of enclosure, a well balanced diet, and more.
If the options so far haven’t appealed to you, birds are another option! Lovebirds, cockatoos, and other birds are often very affectionate and cuddly towards their owners. These charming little pets can also be fun, playful, and social. Some birds will enjoy perching on their owners as they go about their life around the house. But, others might prefer watching from afar until you’re ready to give them some proper attention.
Different types of birds vary in their size, personality and their care needs. So, if you think that a bird appeals to you, you will need to do plenty of research. Make sure you’re bringing home the right choice!
Another quite unusual pet that can enjoy being held and pet is a corn snake. If you’re a reptile fan, this could be the right option for you! As long as you handle and pet a corn snake gently from a young age, they will usually become tolerant to cuddles and affection. In fact, some may even seek it out.
Corn snakes, like all reptiles, have some very specific care needs. So, as with all of the other pets on this list, you should thoroughly research them and make sure they suit your lifestyle before committing.
How to Choose the Right Cuddly Pet
The best small pets for cuddling won’t be the same for everyone. When making your choice, it’s important to consider the care needs of each pets. Some will take up more space than others in your home. Some might be noisy, and others might be smelly or messy pets. Be honest about how much time you have to dedicate to them, and their care.
It can also help to consider the lifespan of each pet. Most of the animals on this list are long-term commitments. Though some, like hamsters, can live around 2 to 3 years, dogs and cats can live as long as 20. You must be prepared to care for them for that entire lifetime, not just whenever you want cuddles!
Some of these pets aren’t the best choice for families with extremely young children, as they can be more quick to bite, or have very complex care needs. And, for those same reasons, novice owners may prefer a pet with more simple care needs at first. So, do plenty of research, don’t just choose the one that looks cutest!
How to Raise a Cuddly Pet
All animals have individual personalities, even if they are known to be affectionate. So, some rats will be more cuddly than others, for example. The way you interact with your pet from a young age can also impact its personality.
From the time you bring your new pet home, no matter which you choose, you should try and handle them frequently. Be gentle, and go at their pace. You might start by leaving your hand in their enclosure and waiting for them to investigate you. Or, feed them a treat, and stroke them very softly whilst they’re eating. With puppies and kittens, this process is usually much easier, but also requires socialization trips outside and with other people – so it can be lengthier.
Regular handling is important if you want a pet that will tolerate and even enjoy cuddling. But, it’s also important from a health perspective. You must be able to pick up and hold your pet whenever you need to take them to the veterinarian. Or for general care needs, such as trimming nails and grooming fur.
Best Small Pets for Cuddling
The best small pet for cuddling will be different for everyone. Some people might love the classics, like a dog, a cat, or a hamster. But, others may love a more unusual option, like a lovebird or a corn snake!
Which cuddly pet is your favorite? Do you have an affectionate animal at home that didn’t make this list? Be sure to tell us about them in the comments!
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References and Resources
- Young, J. (et al), ‘Pets, Touch, and Covid-19: Health Benefits from Non-Human Touch Through Times of Stress’, Journal of Behavioral Economics for Policy (2020)
- Grant, R. (et al), ‘ExNOTic: Should We Be Keeping Exotic Pets?’, Animals (2017)
- Farrell, L. (et al), ‘The Challenges of Pedigree Dog Health: Approaches to Combating Inherited Disease’, Canine Medicine and Genetics (2015)
- Booth, R. ‘Sugar Gliders’, Seminars in Avian and Exotic Pet Medicine (2003)
- Kobrunner, D. (et al), ‘Insight into Husbandry Conditions, Health, and Behavior of Pet Ferrets (Mustela Putorius Furo) Among German-Speaking Ferret Owners’, Journal of Veterinary Behavior (2020)