Monday, July 20, 2009

The Healing Power of Pets

I would like to introduce our cat, Callie.

Growing up, I was definitely NOT a cat person. I thought dogs were much better suited for playing and cuddling; cats seemed more aloof and, well, boring.

I also thought I was allergic to cats, especially considering I'm allergic to all types of things (and cats are one of the most common triggers for people with allergies).

Then about six years ago I met my husband's parents' cat, Kitty Kitty. He (yes, he) had some tendencies that were dog-like. He even played fetch. I started to like him so much that I thought perhaps cats weren't that bad, after all.

Around that time I discovered that (according to the extensive allergy testing I had) I'm not allergic to cats (though, of course, that's not to say I won't develop an allergy in the future).

A couple of years ago my husband and I decided we would get a cat. We went to look at rescued cats and picked out the cutest little kitten with the biggest personality. We named her Callie because she is part calico (she's got a few calico markings on her back, head and tail; her belly is completely white).

The photo above is my favorite photo of Callie from when she was still a kitten. She's a bit bigger now but just as cute.

Callie loves to cuddle when it's cold or when she's sleepy. Sometimes she'll sleep with me at night. She even has a few dog-like tendencies. She greets us at the door when we come home, and she plays fetch with her little mouse toys on occasion.

I never imagined what a huge impact Callie would have on our lives -- on my life.

Having CFIDS, I end up having to stay at home a lot. When my husband is home, too, being at home is really not a big deal. Staying home alone, however, can lead to boredom or loneliness. It's the loneliness that was especially unpleasant. Since getting Callie, she makes it impossible to be bored or lonely. I'm happier and more relaxed than before we got Callie.

There is actually some research about the phenomenon I've experienced:

Today's Activities: work. Today's Symptoms: exhaustion, mild nausea, mild headache; active eczema on left underarm and right ankle; rash on back and abdomen healing.

Mood (10 is best): 6
Energy (10 is best): 3
Physical Discomfort (10 is worst): 4


upnorth said...

Oh I know exactly what you mean. I even though about doing something around animals and disability for my PhD (as human-animal studies is my area). I LOVE my dogs. The 14yr old doesn't need a lot of exercise so it's worked really well with the ME. THe new dog (a 1year old) need more exercise. So far friends come and take her on long walks as I can only do short one block type walks.

I took your advice to heart and am home on a "sick day". That and the fact that I slept in past the start of class. Hope you're doing OK.

perpetualspiral said...

Aw so cute! She looks like she's posing for a Roman painting :) I agree, I don't know what I would do without my pets. I have always had cats, since I was 12, and they do often play fetch, greet you at the door etc. I have a dog and a cat now, and I can't live without them. There is something great about having other living beings in the house with you. It definitely takes away loneliness :)

annie said...

Hi Alyson,
You have a really cute cat! I always enjoy reading your blog -- loved this post about pets! I have not had my own since my 15 year old lab mix died two years ago, but I have been blessed to borrow other people's dogs every now and then. I took care my brother's dog for several months while he was out of the country, and I'm still getting used to not having him around since he went back home last month. I'm 32 and because of CFS I spend most of my time at home, so even though Kirby's high energy was a challenge he was good company and made me laugh!

alyson said...

Thanks for all the great comments (and for reading my blog)!

cfswarrior said...

Callie is adorable! I know exactly what you mean about cats (and pets in general). They have been so vital to me since I've become ill and housebound. That picture is just adorable.

alyson said...

Thanks for the post, cfswarrior! Callie definitely rescued me from loneliness. Good luck on your new treatment, by the way.