Pet owners know a secret that could help improve many people’s lives: Owning a dog or cat can be incredibly therapeutic.
Of course, if you’re allergic to critters or have a particularly cantankerous pet, this general rule may not apply, but on the whole, dog and cat owners seem to do better physically and psychologically than people who do not own dogs or cats.
Petting a dog or cat is not only relaxing to them and you, but it actually lowers your blood pressure. Besides, how can you not smile when your furry friends seeks you out and asks for attention?
“We found that pet owners, on average, were better off than non-owners, especially when they have a higher-quality relationship with their pets,” Allen R. McConnell, professor of psychology and pet researcher at Miami University, told WebMD. “What (makes) a meaningful relationship varies from person to person.”
Not only is the pet-human bond beneficial, but a dog can help make a person more social by providing natural opportunities for social interaction.
“If I saw you walking down the street, I couldn’t comfortably start talking to you if I didn’t know you, but I could if you had a dog,” director Alan Beck of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University said. “It’s an acceptable interaction that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.”
There are all sorts of therapy animals that make the rounds at schools, hospitals, and nursing homes, and they leave a lasting impression wherever they go.
Following this theme, one group decided to surprise strangers with a kitten mob disguised as a meditation opportunity. Participants were asked about their stressors, and many described their stress levels as being between 5 and 10.
Deadlines, work, relationships and travel were some of the things they mentioned that had caused them undue stress. They were then invited to walk into a glass box set on a green.
People went in one at a time, and they were given a pillow to sit on and a set of headphones which played soothing music and meditation instructions.
One of the relaxation steps was to close their eyes and listen to a cat purring. Then they were instructed to open their eyes, and saw a small door in the opposing wall open up and a little grey tabby trot in.
It wasn’t long before several kittens were running around in the enclosure, playing with toys and bringing a smile to the participants’ faces, doing their very best to provide all-natural kitten therapy.
“You can’t be stressed after sitting in a box full of kittens,” said one participant.
“Being around young creatures just reminds you to take it easy,” said another.
These people had started the process with furrowed brows and a weight on their shoulders, but that all melted away when they were surrounded by the adorable kittens.
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