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Benefits of Pets On My Recovery Journey

Post written by Kailey MarcAurele

kailey and treasure

Sometimes I wonder where I would be without my pets. While I don’t have any actual therapy pets, my pets have been such a huge part of my mental wellness without even trying.

Did you know that there are health and mood-boosting benefits to having a pet? Some of these benefits of pets include:

  • Elevated levels of serotonin and dopamine – playing with a dog, cat, or other pet releases hormones which calm and relax you
  • Reduce depression – companionship can help prevent illness and even add years to your life, while isolation and loneliness can trigger symptoms of depression
  • Reduce anxiety – the companionship of an animal can offer comfort, help ease anxiety, and build self-confidence for people anxious about going out into the world
  • Providing sensory stress relief – stroking a dog, cat, or other animal can lower blood pressure and help you quickly feel calmer and less stressed

As crazy as it sounds, my childhood cat Treasure is a huge reason why I am still here today. Growing up, I struggled a lot with suicidal thoughts and ideations. One of the main reasons I never went through with any plans to end my life was because I couldn’t fathom leaving Treasure behind alone. She is just an innocent cat and I could not do that to her. She wouldn’t understand. I literally loved that cat more than I loved myself (and I still do).

My cat Treasure and I were inseparable. We got her when I was 11 or 12 and she chose me as her person. Wherever I went, she followed. Honestly, she hated everyone but me. She slept with me every night and she was literally my best friend. She was always right by my side when I was home.

my ride or die Treasure Ann

I struggled a lot with depression when I was younger and petting my cat and snuggling my cat always made me feel so much better. Any time I was crying, she always seemed to know how to make me feel better. Even when my world seemed to be falling apart, having her near me made things seem just a little bit better. Having her by my side made me feel loved and like I mattered. I loved being her person. Just LOOKING at her could change my mood. Her cute little face brought me so much happiness. She was my child and I would do anything for her, including continuing on with life even when I really didn’t want to.

Treasure was such a blessing to me in so many ways. Whether she realizes it or not, she has gotten me through so many horrible and tough times in my life. She gave me a reason to live. She gave me purpose. She was my reason to wake up in the morning. Waking up and seeing her little face looking back at me melted my heart every day.

When I started dating my boyfriend, I was able to experience the love dogs have to offer. While I absolutely love my cat more than life itself, I came to LOVE my boyfriends dogs. Once I started dating my boyfriend, I was spending pretty much every day at his house and his animals (two dogs and two cats) became like my own. I loved them, and they loved me back.

benefits of pets dogs
Gabe (left) and Rayne (right)

Seeing the pure joy Gabe and Rayne had spending time with my boyfriend and I gave me so much joy. It made my heart so full. Whenever I was upset, petting them and just straight up snuggling them in bed and hugging them was such a huge comfort to me. Just like with my cat Treasure, I was absolutely in love with these animals. They gave me purpose. Being in their life made me so happy.

Smiley Gabe
A happy Baby Rayne getting some pets on her birthday this year

The companionship you have with pets is really like no other. You know that pets have no other ulterior motives in liking you. They love you for you. They genuinely want to spend time with you and they love every waking moment they get to spend with you.

I have been working from home for many years now. It gets extremely lonely working from home all day. I currently live with my boyfriend and our three cats and let me tell you, I do not know how I would make it through the day without them. When I am feeling overwhelmed, I go lay with them or I pet them and kiss them repeatedly. Just being near them helps to calm me down.

Having them here really does make me less alone. When I feel the depression creeping up or my anxiety creeping up, I always know they’re there and they’re happy to just sit with me while I pet them. Sometimes I will take a break during the day and just pet my cats and talk to them for like 40 minutes (not even an exaggeration). I would probably go insane being alone all day every day. They really help keep me grounded while I am home alone all day.

my three baby kitties

There are so many benefits of pets in terms of your mental health. For me personally, my cat Treasure literally saved my life when I was younger and really struggling. I felt like I had nowhere to turn and I felt completely alone, but she made me feel loved and less alone.

I love that I have been surrounded by so many animals that have showed me nothing but pure, genuine love. Their love has given me the strength to keep going even on my worst days. The dogs’ happiness just living in the moment with us has reminded me that there is so much for me to be happy about and that there is good. They’ve reminded me to try and find the good.

kailey with dog in bed

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