Recently, a Facebook friend posted a link to an article about cats that really got my goat. It claimed a scientific study had determined that cats hate it when you touch them and only pretend to love humans for the fringe benefits we provide. “While cats may look all fuzzy and adorable on the outside, research shows that they really are the cold, unfeeling monsters the world thinks they are,” the article stated.
It’s not the first time an obviously anti-cat person went on a diatribe about what awful, unloving creatures cats are, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. What I found particularly egregious about this one was the use of “science” to back up the author’s negative feelings about cats.
I told my friend that this was the most ridiculous article I have ever read. It was ridiculous because anyone who loves cats knows that every statement the cat hater made was untrue. We don’t need science to tell us that if we take the time to understand our cats as individuals and find ways to bond with them, that they will – and most certainly do – love us back. My cats Mickey, Rocky and Annabelle are positive proof of that.
If you’re a pet lover like me, you probably think that asking if pets make us happier is a pretty dumb question. You may have even uttered something sarcastic like “well duh.” I thought the same thing, until I happened upon a blog post where there was quite a debate going on about that very question.
“Debate? What’s to debate?” I naturally thought. My cats keep my Happy Meter so full, there’s simply no question their furry presence makes me not only happier, but healthier – body, mind and spirit.
The arguments against pets making us happier spoke of things like the hassle of caring for a pet (personally, I’ve never considered caring for my beloved cats a hassle, but whatever); the stress that can arise when they’re sick or injured; the agitation that occurs when your dog shreds your couch cushion or your cat deposits a hairball on the new carpet. I’ll give them points on the stress and agitation issues. No one likes those things. However, I still believe that all of the positives of having a pet far outweigh any negatives.
In my article, How Do You Keep Your Pet Happy?, my furiend Guido the Italian Kitty made an astute observation when he said “My Meowster self thinks your article should be titled How does your PET keep YOU Happy?” It was obvious that all of the things I do to keep my cats happy also make ME happy. I don’t do things that make my cats happy for the sole purpose of my own happiness, but it’s definitely a fringe benefit. I am reminded of that over-used saying: Happy wife, happy life. My version would be: Happy cats, happy me.
Not long ago, an interesting bit of writing popped up on my Facebook newsfeed. It was a short piece titled Just a Dog – not really a poem but not a “story” either. It was, however, a very moving tribute to man’s best friend. I really wanted to share it with you, but there was no author listed, nor any indication where it came from. I’m no stranger to the copyright law, and I’d never post it here (or anywhere) without permission from the copyright owner.
So, I did a little digging. I found Just a Dog on hundreds of other websites and blogs, and some had even taken artistic license and changed it to Just a Cat. A few had the supposed author’s name – Richard A. Biby – but I couldn’t find the man or where the piece was originally published. It’s definitely worth a read, though, so I would encourage you to Google it. Just not before you finish reading my post. LOL.
The poignant piece brought to mind the times in my own life where people have said things like, “It’s just a cat. How can you spend that kind of money on a cat?” “It’s just a cat, it doesn’t love you like a human child can.” Or the very worst of all, after a beloved cat had died, “It’s just a cat. You can always get another one.”
You’ve probably had similar things said to you about your own dog or cat, because the world is filled with unfortunate people who have never bonded with a pet. They can’t possibly comprehend the depth of your love for “just a dog.” They don’t understand why you would consider “just a cat” to be a beloved family member that you’d do anything to keep safe, healthy and happy. The non-pet crowd often trivializes our relationships with our furry friends, because they don’t get that our pets will never be “just” anything.
Every now and then my mother, a true non-pet person if ever there was one, says something along the lines of “Your cats sure are spoiled.” I smile and say “thank you.” I know she doesn’t mean that as a compliment, but to me it definitely is. If I am spoiling my cats, it means I am doing everything I can to make sure they are happy and healthy, and feel loved and appreciated.
Unlike spoiled children who run the risk of becoming brats who feel and act entitled, spoiled pets are just contented creatures who have a wonderful life. Are they thankful for it? I’m sure there are those like my mother who believe animals don’t have the capacity to feel thankful, or happy or sad either, for that matter. But we know better, don’t we?
Who among us can say that we haven’t seen looks of sheer joy on the faces of our pets? The greatest thing about making a pet happy is that it’s actually quite easy. They don’t ask for much other than to be well fed and well loved – now, how hard is that?
Although I don’t currently have a special “Cat Guy” in my life, I love them all because a) they are fond of felines and b) they’re not afraid to admit it. Some men think it’s not cool or “macho” to love cats because they see felines as feminine creatures. I have many wonderful male friends who love cats, and they would all tell you there is zero truth to that stereotype.
What’s the best gift your cat has ever given you? Dan: We currently have seven cats in our home. The best gift is the absolute unconditional love they give to me and the comfort that comes from that love. Fred: Her love and companionship when I was home recovering from back surgery. John: Headbutts. I love when the cats headbutt me. Kevin: I’m always amazed at how well all of our cats, especially those with whom we have the closest bonds, are able to read human emotions. Unsolicited cat snuggles, purrs and unconditional love are the most wonderful gifts after a tough day. Scott: Unconditional love. Terry: Without a doubt, the best gift my cat Brian has given me is that of patience and acceptance. Brian has just the right personality for a multi-cat household. He understands that everyone is different and sometimes it takes a little time for others to find the good in you. He is quick to show kindness, and will give up his treats or playtime if one of his sisters seems more interested. So Brian has taught me how to be patient and has helped me understand that everyone has needs of their own and that helping others is the most important thing you can do.
Dogs can be more than just a loving family member. They contribute in many ways just by being a part of the household. They can even be of special service or be a therapy dog to people who have medical issues or certain limitations in function. One of the conditions they can help their human companions with is depression.
Dogs give unconditional love while asking for very little in return. Their love is uncomplicated and adds no stress on that level to an already depressed person who has very little of themselves to give. A dog can also sense that their human family member is in a less than functional emotional or physical condition, and be concerned and protective. If relationships with family members or friends are strained and causing more anxiety for the person dealing with depression, the simple love of a dog can be soothing to overtaxed nerves and feelings.
Depression often causes lessened physical activity and no motivation to do things. The smallest physical task often becomes overwhelming. It is hard to even get up and move around a little when a person is battling depression. Having a dog to care for and love may be one way to find just enough motivation to move around the house to feed, play with and care for the dog.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.