By now, most of us have heard about the health benefits associated with owning a pet, including stress reduction, lessening of anxiety and depression symptoms and even increased physical activity.
In addition to the emotional and physical boosts, pets can make significant impacts on the family as a whole. I know our feline family members have brought our human family closer together, sometimes in ways we didn’t expect. Cats work in mysterious ways — they’re fuzzy little family therapists, without the copay.
Here are five ways pets can bring families closer together.
In the evening, my husband, two kids and I gather in the main living area while we make dinner. We usually chat and play with the cats. The four of us are lucky to share many interests, one of them being our cats. During this time, one of us will usually share a cute cat photo they saw online, I might read the day’s Texts from Mittens post and we may gather to watch one of the cats stalk a catnip mouse. Our cats are a subject we all enjoy and that’s one of the reasons we enjoy spending time together as a family. And food … we love to eat.
Kids of most any age can assume some responsibility in the care of a pet. Even young children can help scoop cat food or fill water dishes. In our home, we’ve always had assigned cat-related duties. My daughter and I scoop the litter boxes, my husband and I groom, and my son helps with feeding; however, we all jump in and help when needed. Sometimes a “family pet” becomes the responsibility of one person, usually one of the adults. Sharing your family life with a pet is an excellent opportunity to come together and learn the art of cooperation.
Cats are hysterical! I can’t tell you have many times my son has come running into the room, exclaiming, “Look at this funny cat video!” And then we all have a great laugh, and usually watch it a second or third … or fourth time. Last night our Cosmo had finished cleaning himself and forgot to retract his tongue, resulting in what I like to call “peeky tongue.” We were watching TV at the time, but paused our show and completely lost it over the peeky tongue. He must have sat like that for two solid minutes! Laughter is good for the soul — and for the family!
Sometimes pet-related decisions need to be made and kids could be a part of some of these decisions. They could be as simple as choosing a cat toy or where to place the new cat tree. Whatever the case, it’s an opportunity for family members to come together and discuss cat-related decisions. Being a part of these decisions not only brings the family closer together, it boosts the kids’ confidence and self-esteem.
It’s difficult to lose a beloved family member, and sometimes kids have an especially hard time grieving. As parents, we can help them process and move through the very normal feelings of grief. Some families work together on memorial projects for the deceased pet, including scrapbooks, writing stories, artwork and creating altars.
How do your pets bring your family together? Show us in the comments!
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About the Author: Angie Bailey is an eternal optimist with an adoration of all things silly. Loves pre-adolescent boy humor, puns, making up parody songs, thinking about cats doing people things and The Smiths. Writes Catladyland, a cat humor blog, Texts from Mittens (originated right here on Catster) and authored whiskerslist: the kitty classifieds, a silly book about cats wheeling and dealing online. Partner in a production company and writes and acts in a comedy web series that features sketches and mockumentaries. Mother to two humans and three cats, all of which want her to make them food.