Pets can help us cope with the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is the perfect time to adopt – or foster – a pet.

Anxiety levels are understandably high right now, and companion animals have been clinically proven to lower stress rates and even improve heart health.

Plus, they’re great at relieving the loneliness many of us are feeling right now because of the necessary social distancing and shelter-in-place efforts.

I’ve been working from home for three weeks now, and I rarely venture out of the house. My two cats have been constant companions, and they’re also endless sources of entertainment.

The “boys,” as I call them, are Henry and Edgar, and if you’re friends with me on social media, you’re very familiar with them both. I think they’re both minor celebrities due to my Facebook and Instagram pages, and when I talk to others, I’m almost always asked how they’re doing.

Henry is the older of the two and recently turned 6. He’s an all-black cat except for one tiny white dot at the very tip of his tail. He’s a fat and happy cat, and he spends most of his time curled up next to me. As I tell others, he supervises my work. I think he generally disapproves of anything that doesn’t involve us napping or him getting food.

Edgar – the black-and-white one – is still very much a kitten and is less than a year old. I found him on the porch in mid-2019, and he was a pitiful looking little creature. I spent several weeks luring him to me, and I finally succeeded in gaining his trust and getting him to the veterinarian. He then moved in with us, and despite Henry’s initial resistance, has become a beloved member of the household.

It wasn’t easy getting the two to socialize, but they now spend as majority of their days cuddled up to each other or chasing each other around the house. They rarely fight, and Henry seems to have settled into his new role as a big brother or adopted dad. If you can’t tell, I love them both very much.

Henry is also a rescue animal. I adopted him from one of the local animal shelters when he was a tiny kitten, and I’m glad I did. He has added much love to my life over the years.

In fact, I’ve had rescue animals for my entire life. My childhood pets included a calico cat who was found in the woods and lived with us until her death at the age of 18. My loyal boyhood dog, who died from cancer several years ago, was a rescue from an animal shelter, and we later adopted another dog from the same shelter. His name is Napoleon, and he’s elderly now but still full of energy.

It’s amazing how much joy animals can add to our lives, and we all need a little joy right now. We also need a jolt of positivity, and what’s more positive than a happy cat or dog?

If you’re on the fence about adopting, I encourage you to visit one of our local shelters and at least try fostering. Our shelters are almost always at full capacity or over their capacity, and these animals need a savior. You can make an immediate impact by fostering or adopting, and you’ll feel great about doing it.

These shelters are doing the Lord’s work, and they hold a special place in my heart. Consider helping them out, and I suspect you’ll find that you’ve helped yourself, too, in countless ways.

Have fun loving on a pet, and stay safe until we talk again.

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