By Jackie Kellum
What is a furry Prozac??? If you have guessed your family pet, you are correct. People who do not have pets wonder why we love them so much, and why the pet loves us. It is a mutual benefit for all concerned.
Lots and lots of studies have been done about the relationship between a pet and a pet owner. Very simply, the pet who has a person in their life benefits from having a safe place to live, good food, comfort as well as companionship. Many people think dogs are better companions than a cat. Cats get a ‘bad rap’ sometimes about their relationship with their owner because many people believe that dogs are more attached to their owner than a cat. But, one particular extensive scientific study showed that 64% of cats also formed attachments to their owners that are similar to those that dogs and even babies form with their caregivers. In other words, cats do love their owner as much as dogs do, even if cats don’t show it as much as a dog.
Pet ownership has numerous benefits for the owner. Pets create a chemical “high” as it were in their owner by just spending time, talking to, sharing your inner feelings and petting your cat or dog. Stress hormones like cortisol which is associated with depression and anxiety are reduced when you have a pet. Also there is an elevation of beneficial hormones like oxytocin and serotonin which occurs during this pet-owner relationship. Oxytocin promotes both physical and emotional healing. These hormones also increase the feeling of happiness, relaxation, trust, and empathy while reducing uneasiness and stress. In this case, Oxytocin does not need a doctor’s prescription.
Most of us have seen or read about those studies that say owning a pet lowers our blood pressure, and some go so far to say they may lower our cholesterol. I am not sure about that latter part. Our pets do make us get up in the morning and get going for the day. They also help us with a daily routine and daily tasks. These habits bringing structure and purpose into our lives which makes us be more ‘productive’ and happier within ourselves. Cats have their own way of motivating us to get moving – try ignoring a cat who wants breakfast.
Watching our pets and their silly behavior at times, makes us laugh at them and lighten our mood. In their own way, pets give us a self-esteem boost, and instill a greater sense of belonging – we are one family. All of them make us feel needed, after all someone has to fill up their food and water bowls.
There have been several studies about the strong bonds between people and their animals, and one study revealed that 97 percent of pet owners talk to their pets. Another study was about, Why do owners talk to their pets? and whether this was bizarre behavior or not. In an on-line publication “Ink this Morning” regarding these pet–owner conversations, and I quote: “The bottom line is this: Congrats! You’re not crazy! Talking to your pets is a sign of sensitivity, EQ, and all around human intelligence.” The article also said: “Sensitive, perceptive people talk to their pets, not deranged ones.” FYI: EQ. is an abbreviation for emotional quotient, a measure of a person’s adequacy in such areas as self-awareness, empathy, and dealing sensitively with other people. So when you are with your cat or dog continue your conversations – they enjoy it, and it is good for us.