Studies show that owning a pet can increase self esteem, develop social skills and help people make friends. Families with pets tend to feel closer and play together more often.
A strong bond with a pet has all sorts of benefits to health and emotional wellbeing. Studies with elderly people showed that owning a cat reduces anxiety, loneliness, depression and hypertension. Another study showed that pet owners have a better chance of survival after being hospitalised for heart problems.
When their owners are suffering, dogs can be very gentle and comforting. Cats, too, tend to pick up when a person needs sympathy and will cuddle up and purr, when normally they enjoy their independence. Pets can be so perceptive at picking up when their owner needs comforting that some have actively prevented suicide.
For all that we humans think we’re the top of the evolutionary chain, we have a lot to learn from the simple, loving ways of a well-cared for pet.