Why owning a pet is a great idea for your own happiness and health.

“You definitely have a lot of cats.” One of my friends growing up made this rather blunt observation as she watched our 11 cats (two mamas and nine kittens) scamper around our basement. “Why do you have cats anyway?” she wanted to know. I wonder if that’s a question all pet owners have been asked at one point or another. “Why do you have your pet anyway?”

Well, back in the day as I was growing up, there were many reasons why I had cats. First off, cats were my favorite type of animal. They still are. So, of course I always wanted a cat. Second, we lived at the edge of our subdivision and our yard bordered a vast field. There were plenty of rodents that we wanted to keep away, so we kept cats as mousers.

Both were very good reasons for having cats. But perhaps the best reason of all was my cats made me truly happy. For one, cats make great listeners. That came in especially handy in my teenage years when I had a lot of things I needed to work out. Nothing could bring peace and order back into my teenage universe quite like a good chat with the cat. I’m sure I’m not alone in my cat chatting ways. There are many pet owners who find great companionship in keeping a pet. Scientists and researchers have even done studies on the benefits that we derive from having pets. There’s nothing clearer: having the right pet just makes us happy.

Here’s a few more reasons for why we love pets so much. So the next time someone asks you why you’re such a happy pet owner, you can let them know the many benefits of having a pet!

Social interaction: Any person’s life can be enriched by social interaction. It’s my view that anything that pulls you away from focusing too much on yourself will help you to not dwell on the difficulties and problems you might be experiencing. Or, in my case, having a pet allowed me to talk out the things in my life that I was holding in. Basically, connection on any level with someone outside of ourselves is a great way to be happier.

Fighting the blues: Some have suggested that pets help us to come out of a depressed or blue mood. I believe one of the most healing sensations is being trusted and needed. When we are taking care of a pet, we experience the fulfillment of time well spent and a life well lived. It gives us priority and focus when we know we have a friend to take care of.

Exercise and a healthy lifestyle: If you have a dog or other pet that is active outdoors, you know that your pet almost acts as your personal trainer. I have friends who have welcomed pets into their family partly so they can engage in a more active lifestyle. Having a dog can certainly enrich your active life. There’s nothing better than going on a walk with a (furry) friend!

Routine: If you have a pet, you may have noticed an increase of routine in your life. Pets, especially those with regular eating and exercise cycles, help bring greater structure to your schedule. For the types like me who need structure in order to be effective in their use of time, the time spent caring for a pet can reap rich and unexpected rewards in other areas of your life.

Stress Relief: I love a soothing and quiet moment spent petting a dog or a cat. I can’t deny the huge help it is to have a pet around simply to distract me from the pressures and frustrations that build up throughout the day. And I’m not the only one looking to pets for stress relief. Apparently, last winter there were airports that brought companionship dogs into their terminals to help soothe and boost the morale of holiday travelers.

Joining a community: While pets give you a first line of companionship, they also lead you into a new community of other pet owners. Whether you’re at the pet store or a pet training class, suddenly you have something wonderful in common with the other people there. And we all know that one of the easiest icebreakers in the world is asking about someone else’s pet!

The Joy of Play: Laughter, youth, play. A pet can bring all of these things into your life. Whether pet ownership really increases longevity or not, there’s no doubt in my mind that the right pet makes the live we live that much richer and happier.



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