According to a UK study, our pets are helping us stay mentally healthy.

By Austin Cannon
October 05, 2020
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While it’s been pretty well-documented that pets can help improve our overall health, a new study from the United Kingdom shows that dogs and cats are saving us during quarantine, too.  

According to the report published in Plos One, having dogs and cats in the house is mitigating some of the physiological and physical effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many of us are forced to stay in our homes much more than usual. 

Artist and designer Naomi Mishkin, who lives in New York, told Inverse that she and her partner decided to get a Rhodesian ridgeback during the initial weeks of the pandemic, which shut down New York City. 

“There were definitely days in June and July when the only reason I left my house was because my dog needed to go out,” Mishkin says. “Having a dog around reminds you of your own, basic needs. Everything I’m going to say about her is totally cheesy, but she just makes me really happy.” 

The UK study seems to indicate Mishkin isn’t the only one. “The vast majority of animal owners perceived their animals to help them cope with the pandemic context and reported that they constituted an important source of emotional support,” the study reads. 

One of the report’s authors, Elena Ratschen, told Inverse that “having a pet appeared to have a ‘buffering’ function in terms of detrimental effects of the lockdown on mental health and feelings of loneliness.”

Of the nearly 6,000 participants, 86.5 percent said their pets were helping them “cope emotionally” with the pandemic, the study says. More than 94 percent of them each said their animals have “positive effects” on their families and that they “can’t imagine” not having their pet right now. 

Kayla Koterbay, a media director living in Oakland, Calif., had similar thoughts about her cats. 

“The cats keep things light,” Koterbay tells Inverse. “It’s hard to get too far into that existential dread hole when you have a cat purring on your lap.”

So if avoiding existential dread is the last push you need to adopt a pet, here’s where you can begin