Last Updated on: September 28, 2009 by Ingrid King
We live in challenging times and external stressors abound. The economy, the news, and often just getting through the day all present a source of stress for people. It’s been long proven that owning a pet has beneficial effects on our health. Studies have shown that even a few minutes of petting your cat or dog can lower your blood pressure and release endorphins that put you in a better mood. Pets are the greatest source of stress relief and masters at showing us not only how to relax, but how to live in the moment without worrying about the future.
So we know that our pets help us be less stressed. But did you know that your stress can make your pets sick?
People and pets often mirror each others’ physical and emotional states. Animals are natural healers and sometimes take on their person’s problems, often in an attempt to heal them. This happens because of the deep bond shared between a pet and his or her person. Because of the shared energy in such a close relationship, energetic imbalances are shared as well.
Unfortunately stress has the same detrimental effect on our pets’ bodies at it does on ours. Since pets are so sensitive to our emotions, they can become sick as a result of our stress.
Dr. Fern Crist, of The Cat Hospital of Fairfax, says: “As a veterinarian, I frequently see cats who are urinating outside the litterbox. While this undesirable behavior may be caused by a variety of medical problems, it can also be caused or exacerbated by stress. It may be the cat’s stress, such as having a new cat to adjust to in the house; but it can just as easily be the owner’s stress. The emotional turmoil brought on by such difficulties as household financial problems, frequent job travel, marital differences, new babies, and home remodeling can affect our cats in very tangible ways. Our stress can induce undesirable behaviors in our cats, such as inappropriate urination. More importantly, our stress can also influence the development of actual physical illness in our cats as well as in ourselves. As responsible owners, we sometimes need to take a good look at ourselves when we ask why our pets are having problems. Stress relief for pet owners won’t solve every pet health problem, but can go a long way toward alleviating many of them.”
All of this shows us that stress relief is not only important for our own health and well-being, it’s also good for our pets.
Ingrid King is an award-winning author, former veterinary hospital manager, and veterinary journalist who is passionate about cats.