General Question

noodle_poodle's avatar

Why do we find furry animals cute?

Asked by noodle_poodle (1614 points ) September 6th, 2009

If it was simply a question of displaced maternal instinct you would think we would find hairless things, eg baby birds, naked mole rats and such more cute than say a fluffy bunny, because human babies are hairless and yet its almost the opposite. Why is it that humans are drawn to fluffy things and off put by the naked ones we when ourselves are lacking in fluff?

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41 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

Humans find neonates “cute” (and therefor things that resemble neonates) because it acted as yet another small layer of protection for the newborn in the face of predators.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

I don’t know about cute, but tasty? definitely…

dpworkin's avatar

Newborn.Neo: new. natal: about birth. Hence nativity, native, etc.

syz's avatar

The attraction for neonates explains the attraction for large eyes and oversized heads, doesn’t really explain the fuzzy factor, though.

deni's avatar

Because they’re cuddly and squishy and most of the times they are just flat out adorable, simply put. settled.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

@syz fuzzy means soft, soft is pleasing.

ragingloli's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03
women will disagree

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

@ragingloli certain things shouldn’t be fuzzy, but would that panda be so adorable if it was bald?

syz's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 If I’m not mistaken, @ragingloli is attempting a joke about the word “soft” and a certain part of the male anatomy.

ragingloli's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03
i meant the “soft is pleasing” part.

ragingloli's avatar

@syz
you got it.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

ahh, been a long day.

Buttonstc's avatar

But continuing on the whole neotany theme, isn’t it primarily the young of the animal species which are the fuzziest.

And for those where even the adults are still fuzzy (like rabbits) don’t they also retain the large eyes and rounded heads.

Lion cubs are cute, but not adult ones. Same with altra fuzzy kittens who start losing that quality when the adult fur comes in. I still think cats are cute regardless of age but shelter statistics disagree with me. Once kittens are past six mos. their chances for adoption drop sharply according to statistics.

Buttonstc's avatar

And aren’t the large eyes even in adults explain a large part of the popularity of dog breeds such as Boston terriers, Shitzus and similar breeds.

In spite of the obvious physical difficulties in breathing caused by the severe braciocephalic deformed noses ( imho) they are considered the sine qua non of cuteness. It must be the big eyes that overcomes those weirdly pushed in noses.

skfinkel's avatar

I don’t find furry animals cute.

All things baby are cute, but as far as animals go, that only last for a short time until they grow into furry large things.

noodle_poodle's avatar

i dunno @Buttonstc i find adult lions can be quite cute…i wasnt going to get my face ripped off i’d sit and pet one

tinyfaery's avatar

Not sure. GQ. Some things just are.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i don’t know! this is just what happens.

noodle_poodle's avatar

yeh cats are ace

gailcalled's avatar

@skfinkel: MIlo here; I am insulted, particularly since you are family. Check me out.

http://i25.tinypic.com/2zykhnl.jpg
http://i32.tinypic.com/2whp73d.jpg

deni's avatar

@gailcalled Awww your cat looks just about as sassy as mine. I LOVE CATS.

Trance24's avatar

Because they are cuddly ^_^

AstroChuck's avatar

Because they are furry and cute.

YARNLADY's avatar

The “cute” factor has developed over the entire history of evolution. The “cutest” young of the species lived, because they were cared for, while others died.

noodle_poodle's avatar

ok those answers are great and all but they don’t really add any light on the subject ..i am not doubting that fluffy animals are cute (they are cute) am just pondering why we feel that way towards them…for the purposes of evolution it makes no sense to nurture another species young unless you mistake it for your own which bring me back to the whole fur point

LostInParadise's avatar

Very good question and I can only speculate. I wonder if it relates to the shame we feel in nakedness. Naked mole rats, which you mentioned, have to be among the most disgusting look creatures on Earth. It is telling that we use the word naked in naming them. Of course that still leaves to be explained why we find naked infants so cute.

I was originally thinking that it might be related to the tactile sensation of stroking a furry creature, but I am not so sure on this. Coat linings and carpets resemble fur, but not most furniture. We are repulsed by things that feel scaly or slimy, but that might be related to the underlying biological associations.

gailcalled's avatar

I can tell you why human babies are adorable and strokable. If they weren’t, we might dash their heads against the wall when at the end of our tether as a new parent.

noodle_poodle's avatar

thanks @LostInParadise yeh i can sort of see why aversion to scaly or slimy would have an evolutionary benefit as there are many poisonous snakes that could kill/ injure us and probably have done in many a by gone generation…slime perhaps denotes rotting and instinct wants to warn us against ingesting rotten food…but fur…i mean thinking about it you’d expect us to fear it as many furry animals are predatory or could cause us harm large cats/wolves/bears and such or perhaps look at it as food as in cattle/sheep/rabbits but I think there is probably a big divide between cute and food in most peoples eyes…tho to be fair i’d eat a rabbit…not my own pet rabbit perhaps but someone else’s no problem

noodle_poodle's avatar

@gailcalled but human babies aint furry…well unless there’s something terribly wrong about the union that produced em

gailcalled's avatar

I do know that…I was simply musing about Gail’s babies, the very early years.

tinyfaery's avatar

Why does everything have to be explained by evolution?

YARNLADY's avatar

@tinyfaery Good Point. It does get very tiresome to always read that explanation, doesn’t it? OK, here’s another explanation that is just as likely – as each baby is developing, the sandman comes to them in the dead of the night, in the womb, and shows them a picture of other baby beings, and says this is what you will come to see as “cute” when you are born.

noodle_poodle's avatar

well you kinda answered your own question there….

ragingloli's avatar

@YARNLADY
you know that the sandman was originally a monster in a story told to kids to make them go to bed?
the story went like that:
“If you don’t go to bed now, the sandman will come and rip your eyeballs out.”

FujiokaHaruhi192's avatar

Wow that’s kinda hard. Hmm…well, I’d guess it was because it adds character, and a difference from humans. Also perhaps the texture and colours of the fur?

LostInParadise's avatar

@ragingloli , I had always assumed the Sandman was invented to explain why we wake up with that spec of “sand” in our eyes.

ragingloli's avatar

@LostInParadise
E.T.A. Hoffmann described him like this:
„Das ist ein böser Mann,
der kommt zu den Kindern, wenn sie nicht zu Bett gehen wollen, und wirft ih-
nen Hände voll Sand in die Augen, dass sie blutig zum Kopf herausspringen
...“
“This is an evil man, he comes to the children when they don’t want to go to bed, and throws hands full of sand into their eyes, so that they bloodily jump out of their heads”.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

I don’t find all furry animals to be cute. For example, I think baboons are ugly, as well as chimpanzees, and hyenas. For me, most dogs and cats are cute, as well as a few other animals, like some bears, sheep/lambkins, rabbits, etc.

noodle_poodle's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES yeh same i often wonder at people who think pigs are cute…i find them repulsive.

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