Pets and mental health

Do you have a pet? I didn’t all growing up. I was allergic to cats, dogs, birds and pretty much everything under the sun. The only pet I could have was fish and my parents never let my sister and I get one because they said it was “too much work”. When I became an adult and got one, I realized how important it was to actually have one.

My first pet was a cat and his name was Bender. He was a Maine Coon Cat and was gorgeous! He was big and fluffy with brown fur with white tipped paws. And let me tell you, he was a sweetheart. Bender was always right by our sides and brushed up against every single person that entered our home. He cuddled with me when I was sick and slept under the covers in our bed during the Winter. He always wanted to be close to us. When he got sick, we took care of him like he was a member of our family. Soon after Bender arrived, we had a friend with stray kittens in her backyard. We decided to bring Poe into our family. Poe had a dirty face, was bright orange and was feisty as heck. When we brought him home, we weren’t sure how Bender would take to him. After a few weeks, they were inseparable.

Having these two cats in our lives brought us joy, peace and so much more. I realized after having them, pets bring us a sense of comfort that no other human can do for us. They are loving to the point of clinginess and can truly be a part of our families. But one thing I didn’t expect was the mental health relief I got from having them. When I would come home from a chaotic day of work, they would be there to great me at the door with light in their eyes. As soon as I saw them, I would feel instantly calm. My blood pressure would drop and I would feel the worries of the day completely melt away.

After Bender and Poe passed on, I was in a dark place for a very long period of time. I would come home and their faces wouldn’t be there to greet me. I would be watching TV on the couch and miss their cuddles under the blanket. And when my husband was away on a business trip, I was lonely.  Very lonely. It was hard not having them in our house. I felt anxious more often, I felt depressed and I would cry for no reason sometimes. We missed them…a lot! We had lost family members. We had lost a huge part of our heart. And we took time to cope. 

Months went by and when we were ready to bring another family member into our lives, we wanted something bigger. We chose to adopt a puppy. A black Labrador/Hound mix named Aries. He was full of energy, silliness and the same unconditional love we had with the cats. This time, we noticed it was more work. Aries still brought lower stress levels, anxiety relief, and unconditional love to our home. But we noticed there were times when we’d lose our patience and get frustrated. We think of it as upgrading to Pet Parent Level 2. Training a puppy is hard, but it is so rewarding when they learn. Aries learned fast and filled that whole in our lives. He brought back the joy to our home. And trust me, he’s been worth the headaches.

When it comes to choosing a pet, you have to choose the right one for you. Whether it’s a cat or a dog, you should consider your lifestyle choices and whether it will fit in with how you already live your life. If you want, you can adjust your lifestyle. If a cat or a dog isn’t right for you, you may want a horse, a bird or a lizard. But know this, whichever way you choose, you will be rewarded with endless amounts of love and happiness. I’d love to hear your pet stories and what they’d do for you. Go to my Facebook page and comment with a picture of your pet!

Share the love!