So this week’s #howtobehappier post maybe *ahem* slightly biased because of our new arrival. But stick with me as it’s not just a reason to show off my adorable, my heart can’t take the cuteness, new kitten Louis but there is actual science involved. I know get me.
Having a fluffy feline friend, loyal canine companion, or even a mesmerising goldfish can make you happier. It doesn’t even have to be yours, I’m not condoning swiping the next animal you see on the street but spending time in the company of loving pets (family, friends or your own) can do wonders for your health.
Stroking an animal has been known to lower blood pressure, reduce stress and anxiety, ease loneliness, provide unconditional love and affection, encourage exercise and boost your self-esteem. Playing with a dog or cat raises your serotonin and dopamine levels (the ones that make you calm and happy), and pet owners have lower cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets. Whoa.
After having Louis for less than a week I totally agree with this theory. I find myself rushing home from work to see him, laughing at his newest discoveries, helping him find his way in this new house. I’m turning into one of those women who constantly tweet and share photos of their baby. Sorry. Well not really.
The weirdest thing is that I’ve never been a cat person. Dogs were my bag. I dreamed of owning my own puppy, I even dragged my dad to Crufts so I could just look at dogs. Yep that was how much I loved these four legged friends. But working 9-5 job, then backpacking and now living in a 3rd floor apartment has meant the puppy will have to wait.
I think the reason I never got the whole cat thing was because I’d never been around them. We didn’t have one as I was growing up and neither did any of my friends. My boyf on the other hand is Team Cats. He’s always had a cat and was so sad when his childhood cat died just after we returned from South America, that one night we got chatting about *maybe* getting a kitten. He was convinced I’d understand how incredible these animals are and love them just as much as I love dogs.
Still slightly sceptical but never one to back down from a challenge (I’m an animal lover but for me nothing beats a dog) we were en route to a farmyard in the middle of the French countryside to meet Louis. A fluffy white 20 day old kitten. Holding him in my hand when he couldn’t even walk, could barely squeak and looked up at me with his mismatched bright eyes (one is green and the other blue) my heart instantly melted. The next few weeks of waiting until he was litter trained, eating and ready to leave his mum were SO hard. I found myself looking at photos of him imagining what he’ll be like when he was ours, how he’d cope without his brothers and if he’d love us like I knew we loved him. I mean just LOOK at that iccle face!!!
Then last week we got the call! He was ready to come home! So another drive out to the middle of nowhere to pick him up and I couldn’t believe how much he’d changed. More fluff, more confident, and even more adorable.
Well, since then I can’t imagine him not being here. He is still very young, only 8 weeks old and so tiny but really well behaved. The first night we had him I kept getting up to check he was still breathing (he was fine it was just my maternal hormones going crazy). Oh God, what have I become?!
Obviously not everyone has the time, space and money to devote their love to an animal. Getting any pet is a big responsibility, one that is for life and not just for Christmas. So if owning an animal isn’t feasible it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the health and happiness benefits either. Why not offer to walk a neighbour’s dog, look after a friend’s cat whilst they are on holiday, volunteer at a local animal shelter?
Spending time with animals is guaranteed to put a smile on your face (although it has made writing slightly more challenging!). The dog vs cat debate continues in the NotWedorDead household, but I have to admit that little Louis is completely purrfect. I feel I owe the feline world an apology.
You can find the other posts in my #HowToBeHappier series here, here and here. I’d LOVE to know what you think! Remember you can get in touch any time via Twitter @notwedordead, Facebook, or drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) I hope you have a ruddy brilliant weekend whatever you’re up to!