Are you looking for a holistic way to improve your mental health? Have you thought about adopting a pet? Research suggests animals can help you feel more supported and less lonely. Those four-legged friends are so effective at emotional regulation that hospitals and nursing homes even use them to reduce stress and anxiety and provide support during difficult times.
So what kind of critter should you adopt? Consider these personality tips to determine the best pet for your mental health.
Adopting a cat might be best if you’re new to pet ownership. They introduce you to the demands of animal care but don’t require nearly the degree of training and attention that a dog does.
It takes maybe 30 minutes a day to scoop the litter box and ensure your kitty has plenty of water and food — although you need plenty of cuddling and socialization time, too.
Cats generally are more independent than their canine kin, but that’s not to say that some kitties don’t love to cuddle. Some breeds — like Maine Coons and Ragdolls — are known for their lap-warming properties.
Cats are ideal for busy owners who are on the go. You don’t have to worry about paying for daycare for short overnight trips of 24 to 48 hours — merely ensure your companion has adequate food, water and a clean litter box before you leave. However, keep in mind that cats can get lonely, so consider adopting a pair if you frequently travel.
You can also consider a kitty if you have mobility issues. Nearly every dog breed requires daily walks to stay healthy. However, your feline companion can get plenty of exercise indoors if you provide adequate toys and climbing trees. These need not be expensive — you can DIY a cat tree with sturdy cardboard boxes, glue and carpet scraps. A simple laser pointer offers hours of entertainment for you and exercise for your friend.
If you want an activity partner and faithful friend who rushes to greet you at the door daily, a dog is the right pet for your mental health. Exercise is one of the best remedies for depression and your canine companion will demand their daily walk or jog, pulling you out of your funk on those days when you’d rather stay in sofa-city.
In general, dog owners could be more outgoing. However, the right pup can help a shy introvert make friends — at least one person is sure to approach you on a walk and ask to say hello to your four-legged friend.
Dogs require more care than cats, so this pet isn’t for you if you’re short on time. You should enroll your puppy in socialization and training classes so they become accustomed to how to behave in various situations around strange people and other animals. You’ll need to allow daily time for exercise, plus meet their grooming, feeding and cleanup needs. Plan for one to two hours a day to care for your canine companion.
A pet is a part of the family and a lifelong commitment, so ask yourself the following questions before adopting.
Research shows pets have a beneficial effect on mental health. Adopting a furry friend can help ease the symptoms of your mental health troubles — alongside your prescribed treatment if you have one.
There are many other wonderful pet options out there besides dogs and cats, and most of them tend to involve far less responsibility than dogs and cats do. So take the time to do your research on what’s out there, and if you’re interested in a cat or dog, consider these personality tips to determine which pet will be best for your mental health. Next, you can hit the shelter and bring home your new friend!
About the Author
Mia is a health and wellness writer and the Editor In Chief at Body + Mind. She specifically enjoys writing about women’s fitness, as well as mental health-related topics. When she’s not writing, Mia can usually be found reading poetry, taking a dance or cardio class, or hiking.