A pet is not just an animal that lives with you, it is a true friend. Caring for someone is a kind of ritual for all people: kids, teenagers, youth, and older ones. Psychologists say that interaction with an animal enhances physical, social, emotional, and even mental development. That’s why parents allow their children to have pets in their homes. Let’s see how pets positively influence people’s mental health and well-being.
How our behavior impacts our pets
A study on kittens was conducted by scientists from the University of Oregon. The researchers observed the behavior of 70 kittens aged 3 to 8 months. Together with the owners, they were taken to a room for two minutes and later divided for the same time.
When pets were returned to their owners, the reaction of 64% of them showed a strong attachment to their owners. This shows that the cat’s attachment to their owners does not disappear with age.
Cats that are attached to their owners greet them after a temporary absence and look at them for safety. Cats also sense the mood of their owners because of their behavior and imitate it. When the owner is under stress, the cat can behave accordingly, and when the owner is calm, the pet will also feel calm.
Caring for animals increases overall activity. Studies have shown that those with a cat spend way more time actively than their peers who do not have pets. And playing with our cats on a regular basis is essential for enrichment, too.
According to another study, children who have a cat or other pet from an early age are less likely to catch colds and problems with ears, and in the case of the disease, they recover faster than their peers who do not have pets.
How pets positively impact your mental health—especially for teenagers
The teenage years are often filled with constant stress. There are endless tests and exams during the education process. And the deadline of academic coursework can be very taxing on one’s mental health. In addition to all mentioned above, a student is forced to socialize in school, gain popularity in college or university and get used to various body changes. To help young people relieve stress, some American universities have conducted research that proves that cats help subjectively improve mood, and communication with them relieves pressure on a physiological level. So, if you feel stressed writing a lot of homework or cannot read ‘Frankenstein’ or ‘The Da Vinci Code’ anymore, simply engage with your pet at home and this can help to ease your troubles and boost your mood.
Psychologists have suggested that children who have pets often have higher self-esteem. Such children are more confident and responsible. If your teenager lacks responsibility, having a pet is an excellent idea because he will have to take care of it, feed it, save money to buy extra toys, etc. It’s a great tool for teaching responsibility and the importance of companionship.
Pets are a powerful source of unconditional love. In addition, children learn compassion by caring for an animal. This way, teens can feel a bigger emotional range than their friends who do not have pets.
Development of the cognitive sphere
Can having a cat improve performance in work and school? Psychologists say: absolutely. Studies have shown that younger students who read aloud to their pets developed reading skills faster than their peers who read to adults. The presence of an animal causes less stress for the child. The workers who have pets are more satisfied with their time management and work more efficiently.
When you have a cherished pet in your life, know that not only are you caring for that four-legged friend, but also that they are caring for you, too. Pets are a huge responsibility, but the reward of having one in your life exceeds everything.