39 percent of U.S. households own at least one dog and nearly 34 percent own at least one cat. I am one of them. I have mentioned my cat Simon before, but I’ll talk about him again since this post deals with a new scientific find that pets are indeed good for you.
I adopted my cat five years ago right after one of my suicide attempts. The bond between this little creature and me is something I never imagined I’d have before I met him. The power of such bond is articulated in two articles in the journal Family Process. The research documents the value of the human-animal bond in child development, elderly care, mental illness, physical impairment, dementia, abuse and trauma recovery, and the rehabilitation of incarcerated youth and adults.
In the papers, Dr. Froma Walsh examines how a bond with a pet can strengthen human resilience through times of crisis, persistent adversity, and disruptive transitions, such as relocation, divorce, widowhood, and adoption. The well-being and healing that a pet can provide includes a range of relational benefits, from stress reduction and playfulness, to loyal companionship,affection, comfort, security, and unconditional love. Dr. Walsh says, “The powerful meaning and significance of companion animals is underestimated.”
I suppose this research is great news for all the pet owners everywhere, but the truth is that we probably don’t need a scientific reason to justify why we have a cat, dog or a fish. We are lucky to have them in our lives.