The Benefits of Bonding with Pets

John McManamy Health Guide
  • One of the toughest things about my marriage break-up was having to bid farewell to Sophy’s tabby Holly, affectionately known as Monkey Pants. When I took up residence with Sophy three years ago, Holly adopted me as her human. Among Holly’s many endearing quirks was needing a human escort to her food bowl in the kitchen. It didn’t matter that she was already past the kitchen threshold. Off she would go to some far corner of the house to retrieve one of us. Crawling through a pair of human legs before she ate was one of her rituals. Otherwise, she would go on the kind of hunger strike that put Gandhi to shame.
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    Often, she would summon me from my computer by jumping on my shoulders and proceed to wag her tail in my face or lick my head or both.

    At night, Holly would curl up in bed alongside me. If I were still up, she would warm my spot. So dedicated was she to warming my spot that she would routinely forget to relinquish it. Whenever I went away on business, Holly would find a pair of my underpants to snuggle up with. Gotta love a cat like that.

    Hold on a second – Boo Boo, stop that! I have a black and white kitten tugging at one of my computer cables. Let me explain. When I arrived at my new residence outside of San Diego a few weeks ago, my house mate Paul had just acquired two kittens. Technically, they have no names, but I am provisionally calling them Yogi and Boo Boo.

    Yogi, also a black and white, is the more adventurous and aggressive fuzz ball, the alpha male of the two. “Gee, Yogi, I don’t think the ranger will like it,” says the more timid Boo Boo. “Hey, Boo Boo, what’s one little pic-a-nic basket?” replies the irrepressible Yogi.

    Yogi, that was a cactus plant!

    Now they’re wrestling on my bed. A couple of regular Monkey Pantses they are. Stop looking so cute, you guys.

    Did I tell you we also have another cat, a big ol’ gray lover boy named Elvis? I’m starting to refer to him as my lap cat.

    According to figures that I am making up as I am going along, cats reduce depression by 32 percent in 73 percent of the population. Okay, I can’t prove that, but the Web site of the nonprofit organization Delta Society cites a number of studies showing the positive benefits of bonding with pets, from lower blood pressure to better psychological well-being.

    Holly, I really miss you. Thank heaven for Yogi and Boo Boo and Elvis.

    Read more of our Bipolar Expert Patient stories to find additional information and tips for coping with bipolar disorder.
Published On: December 28, 2006