Pet companionship is the purr-fect stress reliever
September 28, 2016
When I was little, my mom had a little Yorkshire terrier, Jessie, the last survivor of the two yorkies she had before my brother and I were born, her babies before her real babies if you will. When Jessie finally died, after a horrific ear infection, which is a story for a different time, my mom said that Jessie would be the last animal we would ever have in the house. And she was right, for a time.
While my mom has always loved animals, especially dogs, I have never been an animal person, and particularly I have never been a person who likes animals in the house. While my family has always had chickens, a cat for catching mice and a black lab for duck hunting and barking at the UPS guy, they always stayed outside excluding really bad weather. Years passed and the chickens ended up in the freezer, Luke the Labrador retriever got cancer and Misty the smoky-grey cat passed away of natural old age. While more chickens were ordered, we did not make any motions to replace the positions of rodent catcher or a dog to follow the lawnmower around. My family and I got used to going on vacations worry-free because we no longer had to ask someone to come over to our house to look after various animals.
Before too long, however, I became possessed with a crazy idea that was without a doubt born from the plethora of cat videos I watch online. My great idea was that I wanted, no needed, a cat. A tiny, cute, fluffy kitten to be exact. When I brought this up to the people who allow me to still live at home rent-free, my idea was vehemently opposed. Never one to back down from what I want, I introduced facts into my arguments because clearly my emotive pleadings were getting me nowhere. My strongest argument began with evidence pulled from an article from the website Psychology Today, where studies illustrated that pet owners are happier, healthier and even less stressed. Being less stressed, I pointed out to my parents, was not only vital to my success as a college student but would also be very helpful for parents who still live with that college student. Again my arguments were met with severe disapproval by parents who did not want to hear anything about getting a cat.
My pleas for animal companionship became so desperate that on June 12, 2015, my best friend intervened to inform me about a place where there were more kittens than their owners knew what to do with. Not only did she divulge this information, she even drove me to this magical place and set me free among the kittens that were scampering around our feet. After some hard decisions I got back into her car with a kitten in each hand and no immediate plans to inform my parents of the new additions to our household. After about a week in our screened-in porch, a place my parents mandated that they could stay until they had to move outdoors, Oscar and Lemon have lived inside ever since.
While we have all had to come to terms with the many threads dangling off of the couches and chairs that are being used as scratching posts, and the squeaky cat toys that someone always accidentally steps on, my two cats have incorporated themselves seamlessly into the family. Even my dad, my biggest opposition, loves them, though he will never admit to it. And I can say, with certainty, that not only am I happier and but also definitely less stressed because I now have two little cats who are just as excited to see me as I am to see them.
Lauren Simenson is a student at UW-River Falls.