Why pets are great for your mental health

Are pets good for your mental health?
We've all heard the theories about pets providing an abundance of health benefits to their owners but it's something I took very little notice of until around five years ago and since I've being a cat owner myself for the last 18 months I've come to realise that pet's really are wonderful in more ways than one. Now stick with me here because I truly believe that cats or any pet for that matter can have such an amazing impact on your mental health, this isn't just the ramblings of a cat lady!

Five years ago, I'd moved back home from university and I was having a really tough time, I've openly spoken about it in my 'The hidden reality of being unemployed' blog post a few years ago. Something that would always cheer me up was one of Josh's cats, Lexi. From the moment I met her, I loved her and given that I used to spend quite a lot of time at Josh's house, we had a bit of a bond. During the first 6 months of me returning from university, my anxiety sky rocketed and I probably should have visited the doctors. Lexi is such a calm and gentle cat, she'd often just gently stroll up to me and come for a cuddle, that simple act of love and the calmness of the situation would instantly lift my mood. Once I was out of the situation that was causing the rough time, I never gave much thought to the positive impact she'd had on my life until fast forward a few years and I became a proud mamma to two bundles of fur of my own.

Day to day I don't particularly think about the impact having a pet has on my life but recently I sat down and realised that I'd probably be a bit of a different person without my two cats. Now I'm not saying I was unhappy before having pets, because I wasn't, but having something to look after and love has brought so much happiness to my life. The calming effect they have on me is great and spending time with them geniunely makes me feel great, even if I'm already in a really good mood. My two cats seem to just know when I need an extra cuddle or a calm moment and it's those little things that really go a long way. Again, I've spoken about this before but I suffer from IBS and during a bad flare up I'm left in crippling pain with extreme nausea, this can take it's toll at times both physically and mentally. But the cats always seem to know that I'm not myself at those time. You haven't known what love is until you've had your head stuck down the toilet while the cats stand guard outside the bathroom then come and gently lay against you after! Joking aside though, that love does make you feel so much better!

I'm not saying pets are an instant cure for mental health or chronic illnesses, because they're not, obviously. But my god are they are massive ray of sunshine. There's a reason why animals are used in rehabilitation programmes for prisoners, why they're taken into care homes for pet therapy sessions. Because they give people a sense of purpose, they provide a distraction, a conversation starter, something to focus on and something to love. That's why I believe pets are great for your mental health.

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