Laughing and crying, you know it's the same release. Joni Mitchell

Laughing and crying, you know it's the same release. Joni Mitchell

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Healing Power of Pets

Cleo the Healing Kitty
After a rather sleepless night, I got my daughter on the bus, let the dog out and crawled back into bed. I was feeling lonely and anxious until my cat, Cleo, jumped up on the bed. She sat on my chest, purring and kneading her paws. Suddenly I wasn't lonely any more and I could feel the anxiety dial down a few notches. I call Cleo my "Healing Kitty" because she has been a big part of my recovery from several ailments, including brain surgery, fibromyalgia, pulmonary emboli and now perimenopause (which could be the cause of those lonely, anxious feelings).

Cleo as a kitten

When Cleo was a kitten, I had a craniotomy to remove a benign brain tumor, called a meningioma. I did a lot of sleeping on the couch during my recovery. Cleo would climb up to my shoulder and curl up in the crook of my neck. It brought me back to the warmth and comfort of the days when my babies would fall asleep on my shoulder and I'd press my cheek against their warm, little heads. Ever since then, Cleo has been my partner in healing.

Of course, I'm not the only one whose discovered the healing power of pets, which extends even to the point of increasing our longevity. Studies have shown that pets can lower your blood pressure, prevent heart disease and help you heal faster. Having a warm, fuzzy companion to love and to give us love keeps us healthier and happier.

In fact, there are organizations dedicated to supporting that special bond between people and animals. Pets on Wheels provides friendly visits from people and their pets to improve the health and outlook of patients in nursing homes and veterans' hospitals. The Nature Connection, formerly known as Animals As Intermediaries, brings nature programs and live animals to youths-at-risk, people with disabilities and elderly.

“We may regard plants as teachers;
rocks, rivers and clouds as messengers;
and animals as intermediaries.”
Sarah Seabury Ward, Founder of The Nature Connection 

Related articles:
How Pets Help You Live Longer
Can Owing a Pet Help You Live Longer?

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