Controlling Anxiety (Part 3 – Pets Are People Too)

In improving ourselves, we have become better pet owners. We treat our cats like our children and we don’t care how stupid it seems. Some people just don’t understand that animals are people too. My girls go into all of our plans, from vacationing, to partying, to emergency plans.

We have tornado emergency plans in place and that includes my girls. We’re picking up new cat carriers this weekend. There’s a sturdy closet in the center of the apartment, that’s where the girls will be in their carriers when a tornado comes. We can’t all fit in the tub, so that’s the next safest place. They have together tags, so it’ll be easy to get in touch with myself, our two vets, or my mother out of town if someone finds one of my girls. We are putting together some emergency backpacks with rations, water, and first aid kits. We plan to have two backpacks, one for human supplies and one for cat supplies – which includes a cat first aid kit and book. They have harnesses and leashed for emergency days when we are under tornado warnings. Having a plan of action and being prepared for the worst, helps to minimize the anxiety when tornado season arrives.

We take having pets very seriously. We no longer let anyone rationalize why we can’t treat our cats like our children. It’s bullshit and I won’t stand for it. My girls are family and I treat them as such. We setup comfy beds in hiding spots for our girls for when we have parties, so they can be more comfortable. We encourage people to love on our pets and play with them during the party, so that they feel comfortable. To a non-pet person, it sounds strange, but to us they are our children.

My girls help with my anxiety and they deserve love. Yesterday, before the dentist visit, I was feeling anxiety all day. On my way to the kitchen to make some lunch, I see one of my girls curled up in the cutest ball of fur. Even though I was grumpy and in pain, she made me smile. She was so cute and she brings me joy. I pounced on the couch and curled around her for a hug. This particular cat doesn’t particularly favor this kind of attention, so she made noises of protest. In reply, I started purring. After about 30 seconds of purring, her motor starts up and she starts to make her cute happy noises. In those few minutes of interaction, I was happy and I forgot about the anxiety.

Having pets is like having a best friend who is always around. When I’m upset, they know. They come to my aid when I cry or shout. They often act cute and funny when I’m in a bad mood, as if they know and just want to make me smile. Maybe it’s true, or maybe it’s happy coincidence. The truth is, they are there for me, they make me happy, they help with my anxiety, and they deserve my love in return. It’s as simple as that.

We’ve trained them well. They don’t get into people food. They use the litter box, as long as I do my job of keeping it clean and fresh. They have a couple of bad habits, like chewing on plastic – one of them is allergic, so we have to be diligent on not leaving any around. They like getting on top of the bookshelf and yowling at the bedroom where they are not allowed in (thank you SSSCAT), and clawing things (I recommend Soft Paws).

While pets are therapeutic, they are also great in general. They aren’t tools or furniture. They are PEOPLE. If you don’t have the time or patience to raise your pets like children, to treat them like children, or care for their needs, then don’t have a pet please. One of our cats has some anxiety issues, in which she “stress vomits”. We know when she’s stressed, what causes it, and how to alleviate it. I know what it feels like. It’s not as big of an issue for her, especially because we love her enough to care for her needs. It’s a two way relationship and I cherish them both.

I’ve only really mentioned one of them, but they are both equally amazing. They have very different personalities. The other cat is energetic, active, forceful in what she wants, and super tolerant of my shenanigans. She’s also very affectionate. One is more of a cuddle bug and saturated cuteness, while the other is wildly fun. We treat her just as well. I love my girls. I can’t imagine my life without a pet in it. One day, when they are old and at the end of the road, I’ll be there for them. They’ll die at home with me at their side. Thankfully, that’s a very long time from now!

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