There’s something about warm, soft, cute things that comfort us and fill our hearts with joy and responsibility. Personally, I just got done holding my cat who just needed some affection, and it got me thinking.
What is it that makes playing with a puppy, or feeling a cat purr so comforting?
We’re all inclined towards touch. And it’s more than a primal urge. For some it’s a love language. No matter the case, we all desire and need some level of physical touch, humans and animals alike.
Animals have a way of bringing out the best in people. I strongly believe that most, if not all, are empathetic. Especially more empathetic than a human could ever be. I have rarely encountered a malicious animal. More often than not, your intentions can be sensed from the moment they set eyes on you, and any hostility is most likely circumstantial to the animal’s lifestyle rather than to their true nature.
Through empathy, animals know that sometimes we need the simplest of things: to touch. Whether you’re ill, depressed, anxious, or stressed, your dog or cat will come to you before you even know you want to hold them, and they’ll just volunteer themselves.
According to animalmedical.org, 94% of pet owners say their pet makes them smile more than once a day. Cancer.net says that interacting with your pet increases the hormone oxytocin, which slows a person’s heart rate and breathing, reduces blood pressure, and inhibits the production of stress hormones. So, when you’re down, upset, or feeling sick, scratch the dog’s ear, or cuddle the cat, help yourself out a bit.
I enjoy subjecting my cat to torture, giving her gentle squeezes and peppering her with kisses on her fuzzy forehead and cheeks. She, in turn, aggravates me by jumping directly on me while I’m sleeping, yelping from the other room when it’s dinner time and I’ve not fed her soon enough, or rambunctiously rampaging through my studio apartment at full speed, back-flipping off any wall in her way.
When I’m struggling with whatever is going on with my brain, that little fuzzball finds me, and jumps on my lap or starts touching me with a small paw to say “hey, I know just what you need”. Together we make an inseparable family that sometimes get annoyed at each other, but both of us have something the other one needs and craves: each other, love, and touch.
And if you ask the cat, food.