Animals In Romance! Yay or Nay?


Last week, I saw my cat sprawled across my inside clothes drying hoist and it struck me that dogs seem to abound in romantic fiction, but I haven’t read many books where cats get their turn in the limelight. Dog lovers may say there’s a reason for this, but (although I have a massive dog) I’m very much a cat person and I think it’s high time cats get their page space.

So… I promise you that in the near future, you’ll see a book from me with a prominent cat (or two) as a character. But in the meantime, I started thinking about animals in romance novels. Not everyone likes reading about pets/animals in fiction but I very much do. Maybe it’s cos I trust and understand a character more if they are an animal lover as well. Maybe it’s cos I recall my mum reading me all the Beatrix Potter books when I was little and I love the way she gave the animals personalities of their own. When I see my cat and my dog (and the ducks we used to have) interact, it’s easy to see where Beatrix Potter got her inspiration.

My cat is probably a tenth of my dog’s size but he is most definitely the boss amongst the animals in our house. We also have a budgie in a cage and I reckon he’s plucky enough to take both the dog and the cat on. When we had ducks they used to chase my massive dog around the backyard!

A few of my favourite authors that write about animals in their contemporary romances are Kristan Higgins, Kandy Shepherd and Cathryn Hein. If you haven’t checked these ladies out yet, what are you WAITING for!?

Kristan’s books ALL (at least I’m pretty sure) feature a loveable mutt. Her first book I read was TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE and it is still my fave of hers I think. It’s been a while but if my memory serves me right, the little dog in this book plays a bit of a part in getting the hero and heroine together. And I remember one awesome scene where they are both out at night searching together for the dog – okay, my memory sucks and it might not be exactly as I say it, but trust me, all Kristan’s books have the cutest dogs!

Then there’s Kandy Shepherd – an Aussie author who I have much in common with. We both love cats and are DIE-HARD Diet Coke fans. She has a number of books out but my two fave are her HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS and LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD. It’s been a while since I read these too – man I need a reread session – but once again the dogs in these books are central to the relationships between the heroes and heroines. And they’re just downright fun books to read!

Last but not least is another Aussie author Cathryn Hein. Sadly, her books are only available in Australia and New Zealand (although hopefully that will change soon) but she just writes the BEST animal characters ever. She writes mostly about horses – and very much gives them their own special personalities, but Cathryn’s most recent release – HEARTLAND – had a crazy goose called HONK and he was a delight to read about!

I’m very much in the camp that likes reading about animals in romance novels and I’d love to hear any more suggestions for other authors that include animals!

Also, do let me know… are you a fan of animals in romance novels? Why or why not?!




Animals In Romance! Yay or Nay? — 25 Comments

  1. Funny – I just read that scene in Kristan Higgins’ book last night. You have it exactly right! That dog is a great character – and I’m a cat person! In fact, I have cats in most of my books.

    It’s weird to me when none of the characters in a book have pets or animals to take care of. I think it’s often author laziness – much easier to not have to keep track of whether the cat has been fed or that someone needs to dash home to let the dog out!

    • Oh phew, thanks for clarification. I realise I have animals in my rural Australia books but that’s more cos there are animals on farms and farmers have dogs. The book I’ve just started though, theres a stray cat and it’s gonna have kittens :)

  2. I guess I never really thought about it. I own no pets and it does not bother me if the author does not include them. I just finished a book a book where the heroine makes references to the stereotypical single woman with a cat. It is 2013, and I just rolled my eyes at the reference.

  3. In the book I have that’s about to release wide (The Dimple of Doom, she said promo-ingly), my hero has a cat named Captain Taco. I gave him the cat because dogs with dudes is such a THING, you know? Cats and men is seen as “unmanly,” and I hate gender stereotypes. My hero is this anti-hero art thief and I gave him a tiny black cat that he goes apeshit over — embarrassingly so. I wanted it to be a contrast, a hint that he’s not nearly as cool as he pretends to be. I do love animals in romance, probably because I love animals in real life. We have a cat and yes, does my man love her, ever when he calls her a pain in the ass. :)

  4. I love reading about animals in fiction, and I often put some in my books (I have largely featured dogs, admittedly, but there’s the odd cat cameo).

    In the book I’m writing now and one I have planned for the future, I’ll be drawing on my experiences as a pet foster carer in the hopes that it encourages people to look into the cause. Sure, the pets in the stories will be unique and hopefully fun to read about, but it’s my way of also getting a message out there!

    I loved Cathryn’s Honk character, that got a grin out of me a number of times, and I really like how Kristin uses dogs in her books because they’re such a big part of her life. She had an alert dog in The Best Man, for the main character who had seizures. Loved it – very well told.

    Bring on more cats, Rachael!

    • That sounds like a GREAT cause to write about Elise. Can’t wait to read it. And yes, Honk is a fave of mine too. LOVED The Best Man too – and such a great use of the animal character :)

  5. I love animals in romance novels too, and have included some in my books. I think that loving and looking after an animal says a lot about the character. I love what Lucy said about making her cool hero go all apeshit over his cat. That caring says to me he’s a great guy! And conversely, a character who doesn’t like animals? Not hero material!

  6. I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy a book if it had animals featured. I don’t miss them in books and I don’t write them in my own books. If anything I’m a cat person. Always had one as a child. But with seven children I really don’t feel I have the capacity for a pet. Sad indictment that I have run out of care factor. My MD lives with us in a granny flat and has a cat which is quite enough cat for me at present.

  7. Thanks for the shout-out, Miss Rachael! I have just about forgiven you for beating me out for best contemporary romance at the Australian Romance Readers Convention!

    I did have a cat in The Next Best Thing because my cat was giving me the stink-eye. Unfortunately, my ploy didn’t work, and he still gives it to me. But in the book I’m about to start, the hero will have a cat.

    I agree with the comment above; I think it’s strange not to have a pet, unless there’s good reason for it.

    Very fun post! Good luck getting the cat hair off the clean clothes! xox

    • Fan girl moment!!!!! LOL on beating you – I was so shocked!! And I’m sure it’ll NEVER happen again! And can’t wait to read your new cat and must hunt down The Next Best Thing because that must be one of yours I haven’t read yet. I agree with the comment too!! I don’t understand people without pets :)

  8. Rachael, I’m raising a chilled can of Diet Coke in thanks for including my “doggy” contemporary romances among your favourite books with animals in them!
    Needless to say, I love reading about animals in fiction. I think in both life and fiction, you can tell a lot about a person from their attitudes to animals. I couldn’t love a man who didn’t love animals, so I wouldn’t give my characters anything less in a hero or heroine!
    Though I adore cats, I find dogs more interesting to write about as they seem to engage more in everyday life with humans, including getting out of the house. When I’ve written cat characters they are rather more indolent in nature–much like your gorgeous kitty in your photo! (I’m writing with one of my cats on my lap.)

    • *chinks Diet Coke* Ooh interesting point about dogs being easier to write. I’d never thought of it that way but I know what you mean. Your kittens are gorgeous… I am very jealous!

  9. Thanks for the mention, Rach! As you know, I’m a sucker for animals in romances. I just love the humour they add, plus a hero that loves animals – especially dogs and horses – makes me gooey. Not sure about this cat loving business though… especially if they give you stink eye. I don’t even know what stink eye is (conjunctivitis?) but it sounds ick!

  10. The story I have just finished for 50ks30days RWA features Jester the problematic Bengal Cat. So I am ahead of the game :) I have two big dogs but am definitely a cat person.

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