By Liz Lopez
Pets have increasingly become a reliable source of companionship in the daily lives of Americans. With 67% of households owning a pet, it’s no wonder that people turned to their “fur babies” for emotional support at the onset of COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders.
The affection of a nurturing animal can help during difficult times. Pets provide both physical and emotional benefits: decreased stress, decreased blood pressure, reduced cholesterol levels, and reduced feelings of loneliness to name a few.
The Mayo Clinic reported that a major increase in the number of U.S. adults reporting symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression during the pandemic, compared with surveys before the pandemic. Meanwhile, pet adoptions spiked this year and shelter euthanasia is down 43% from last year because of decreased intake, expanded fostering, and an increase in the percentage of pets finding homes, reports Brent Schrotenboer of USA Today.
City College student Nick Reed said, “Early this past summer, I had fallen into a deep depression. After a bad breakup and then news that I was being furloughed due to the shelter-in-place, I was at an all-time low. But this little dude [Nick’s cat, Anton] woke me up every single morning with licks to my face and forced me to get out of bed when all I wanted to do was sleep. Sure, he’s a ‘chonker’ who just wanted to be fed. But at least he gave me a reason to get up each day.”
Whether a “cat person” or a “dog person,” pet owners appreciate the endearing qualities and quirks that are unique to each animal. Pets come to anticipate their human’s routine, and learn to understand their cues and language.
“We have the strongest bond that I’ve ever experienced with a pet and his unwavering irreverence towards current events has inspired me to take life in stride,” Reed said. “The only thing he requires is good snuggles and lots of food. I wish more people were like Anton.”
These beloved companions enrich our lives and find their way into our hearts and if you listen closely enough, they might even teach you a few tricks—about how to live your best and fullest life.