Everybody in some way has been affected negatively by the pandemic, whether it be through just the social distance or something more severe, no one has been spared. It has obviously changed the way many people operate in their day to day lives, and while the negatives far outweigh the positives, it is interesting to view this pandemic from the point of view of our everyday house pets. While people have been drawn farther apart and forced to isolate, our house pets have had more quality time home with their owners. For them, suddenly their people were around much more and in need of a friend.
There is something to learn from the ignorance of our animals and how something very bad for us might be perceived differently by them. Most Americans have an animal, or animals in their house. Whether or not if they have kids, or they work at home, many people do not have the pleasure to always be in the house around their pets, or in a place where they can bring them. This pandemic has given everyone no other choice but to be at home and enjoy the benefits that pets bring us, and in turn benefit them.
Studies have shown that the companionship of a pet, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and prevention) can:
- Decrease triglyceride levels
- Decrease feelings of loneliness
- Increase opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities
- Increase opportunities for socialization
On the People magazine website, an article made by Jen Juneau highlights how pet adoptions have skyrocketed in the COVID-19 pandemic. The article can be found here, where it describes a survey that polled over 1000 pet owners who welcomed new pets in to their home since last march. The article included a visual diagram of the data that can be seen below.
It is safe to say that most everyone is turning to our furry companions during these hard times. It is seen from Arnold Swarchengger and his obnoxious animals in the kitchen to cats taking over office space. The benefits ring true for almost every pet owner although this article is focusing primarily on a cat I used to babysit over a year ago named Luna, who is seen in every picture on this article. She was never known to be the most people-oriented animal, and since the pandemic, I have reached out to her owners and have been shocked to see how much she has changed.
In the beginning of the pandemic, when no flights were going in or out, driving was the only way to get across the country. Michael, one of Luna’s owners, had to travel for his job and she was forced to come with as no pet sitters would be available during the pandemic. They set off and to Michael’s surprise, Luna the cat was extremely relaxed in the car. Most of the time finding a place to sleep and occasionally climbing up on the dashboard to check everything out. Without the pressures of COVID, this situation may have never happened.
According to Michael, Luna the cat has “shown a new side to herself”. Before being quite timid and shy, to now pursuing the attention of her owners. The quarantine brought out a new side to her personality and has grown to be a quarantine companion to this family. Without the pandemic forcing this situation to happen, Luna may have never encountered a situation that pushed her to warm up to her owners.
Luna the cat was rescued by her owners Cynthia and Michael and has never been the most open cat from her unknown past. Usually quite timid and shy, to now having a huge heart and being full of energy. Cynthia stated how working from home has been the biggest thing to give her more time around Luna. “Now it is hard to find a second away from her” Cynthia said.
A short interview of Cynthia, one of Luna’s owners
Luna is seen climbing on Cynthia’s desk while work is trying to be done and stuffed inside a box that is waiting to be thrown away. With working at home being quite stressful for Cynthia, she states how helpful it has been forming a closer relationship with Luna and having her roll around her desk on conference calls.
In day-to-day life during the pandemic, it is easy for anyone to fall into isolation and lose touch socially. This can lead to depression and anxiety of which many of us are familiar. There is science that supports our urge, and our pets urge to turn to each other in social isolation. A researcher and scientist studying how pets help people named Megan Mueller discussed how “contact with pets helps reduce stress and anxiety.” Mueller also conducted research that involved surveying 600 kids from military families. She found that “Strong attachments to pets may foster a more proactive attitude about handling stressful problems and could serve as a bridge to developing and maintaining peer relationships during stressful circumstances.” Mueller also stated that the study “found that animal ownership was linked to a host of positive outcomes” in all the kids, whether they had a parent deployed or not. This research, along with Megan Mueller’s other findings can be found here. https://flo.uri.sh/visualisation/5859422/embed#?secret=HV8g9QWWzJ
While this simple infographic does not follow any real data, It demonstrates the proven fact that animal interaction reduces stress, anxiety and blood pressure. The more time spent interacting with animals, the lower the individual’s blood pressure tends to be. Obviously interacting with an animal will not save you from a hypertensive crisis, although it is proven that it can reduce blood pressure, and the felt anxiety one might feel.
From the time I got to know Luna the cat, she was very shy and timid. Rarely coming out to see me when I would come over to put food in her bowl and give her attention. The pandemic forced her owners to be home and it motivated her to warm up and show her true colors. The example she has expressed, along with the research shows how spending more time around your pets can benefit them and you. On top of everything, this isolation has not been easy on anyone and it is proven that social connection leads to a more positive state of mind. Rather if it’s your pets, friends or family, allow yourself to connect and care for one another. It not only pushes growth within yourself like Luna the cat, but also impacts everyone around you for the better, like her owners.