Pets And What They Bring To Our Lives Continued....   

Pets Help To Prevent Heart Disease
Because pets provide people with faithful companionship, research shows they may also provide their owners with greater psychological stability, thus a measure of protection from heart disease. (National Insitute of Health Technology Assessment Workshop).

Pets Help To Lower Health Care Costs
People with pets actually make fewer doctor visits, especially for non-serious medical conditions. (National Institute of Health Technology Assessment Workshop).

Pets Help To Fight Depression
Pets help fight depression and loneliness, promoting an interest in life. When seniors face adversity or trauma, affection from pets takes on great meaning.  Their bonding behavior can foster a sense of security. (Between Pets and People: The Importance of Animal Companionship).

For 2009, it's estimated $45.4 billion will be spent on our pets in the US.

Food                                           17.4 billion
Supplies/OTC Medical        10.0 billion
Vet Care                                    12.2 billion
Live animal purchases           2.1 billion
Pet Services; Grooming
and Boarding                             3.2 billion


Do Cats Feel Human Emotion?


Cat therapist Carole Wilbourn said cats definitely have emotions. "They can express different moods happiness, sadness, rage that let me know. A cat acts the way it feels."

Cats feel every emotion humans feel, animal behaviorist Warren Eckstein said. "They may not react the same way, but they definitely feel the same emotions we feel."

On a less definitive note, Suzanne Hetts, Ph.D., said cats probably experience emotions, but we can only infer from their behavior.

Cats feel emotions "but not necessarily in the same way we think of them," Debra Horowitz, DVM, DACVB, said. "There are emotional aspects to their behavior."

"A lot of problems arise," Eckstein said, "when owners don't realize the cat has a range of emotions and don't know how to react to the cat when it might be feeling anxious or depressed." These are emotions that he feels are common in cats. "When you take a cat into a home, you have to treat it like part of the family."

One of the hardest things for cat owners to understand is their pets' behavior. Wilbourn said certain behaviors express a cat's happiness, such as purring and relaxing their bodies. Dr. Hunthausen said fear is expressed through opposite actions, such as withdrawal and avoidance.

Cat owners are prone to ascribing human emotion to their cat's behavior. Dr. Hetts urges owners to use caution when doing this, because the interpretation of the animal's behavior may lead to punishing animals because they are convinced the animal acted out of spite, which is most likely not the case. Wilbourn noted that a cat isn't a person, but people and cats share emotions.