What Animals Do for Our Mental Health

In my book, “Know Thyself: A Kid’s Guide to the Archetypes,” I recommend that children watch or play with animals in order to become more aware of the Innocent Archetype — the naturally curious part of our identity. Research into how animals affect our mental health is just in its infancy, but so far there are some compelling studies to suggest that animals can contribute to mental health on a number of levels and across a wide span of ages and mental health problems.

I have done some searching and reading, and here are some good resources on the growing body of evidence that pet ownership and spending time around animals has a positive correlation to physical and mental health.

From Australia, this paper talks about research showing animal-assisted therapy improving mental health for elderly people in nursing homes as well as children diagnosed with ADHD. It also points out that because of financial hardship, pet ownership for some people has become more difficult. It reports that pet ownership was on the decline in Australia due to increased renting and decreasing owning of homes.

The American Humane Association has a good page that talks about animal-assisted work being done with military families and children with cancer. Their hope is that with more clinical trials, animal-assisted therapies will become more mainstream and available for different treatment and caregiving environments.

On this page, Dr. Andrew Weil talks about how animal-assisted therapy and/or pet ownership can alleviate anxiety, depression and social isolation, while improving blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

My discussion of animals in “Know Thyself” is focused primarily on expressing your Innocent, but there are several archetypes that are expressed when animals are a part of our lives. Animals also call forth our Caregiver as we feed and nurture them, and most of us also know people who express a sense of deeper connection with animals — a sense of animals as Soul Mates. Essentially, animals give us the opportunity to express love, which is the basis for so much of what makes life pleasurable and fulfilling.

Cat–The True Threat to Marriage

He Threw Up in Your Closet

by J. Spot Fido and Sparky Goodboy, PhD, LLC, ADHD

The time has come to stand up to the ‘politically correct’ apologists for the feline agenda with some wet-nosed hard-nosed facts based on research studies conducted at Canus University in Paw Paw, Illinois.

These studies prove that cat is the greatest threat to the family today.

First of all, cat is a threat to children, increasing the risk of asthma, allergy and cat scratch fever. Cats are 75% more likely than dogs to sneak into children’s beds and hide in the blankets. Dogs try, but they get caught, because they are less sneaky than cats. Cats are known flea carriers. When you see a dog scratching, that is the natural grooming behavior of a fastidious animal. When a cat scratches itself it means that cat is infested. While it is true that dogs occasionally lick themselves, they do it for good reasons, once in a while. Cats do it constantly. They should get a life.

Cats lure children by stalking and chasing paper, dustballs and moths. Children think this is cute. The cats are just faking it. Except for the really stupid ones.

Cats are a threat to marriage. Whereas most men have a natural bond with dogs, women are susceptible to evolved feline behavior. Cats cry like babies, snuggle and ‘purr’– a sound that would repel most women if they realized it was the sound of spit vibrating through bronchial tubes.

Cats sneak into the bed and expand during the night, physically pushing couples apart. They cause arguments. A man might toss the cat out the window, knowing that they always land on their feet, and for some reason his wife will take offense.

Cats are known to prevent marriage. A single woman is 30% less likely to marry in any given year for every additional cat she acquires over 3, not including temporary litters of kittens. Women who have more than 10 cats, paradoxically, have more relationships with men, but only men who wear Fedoras and argue with people on the internet.

Cats are a threat to the home in the most literal sense. You can always tell when there’s a cat in the house–even if it’s hiding under the couch, the couch is all scratched up. Cats never invite their owners to join them for a healthy walk in the fresh air. Heck no, if you took them for a walk you’d call them and they wouldn’t come back– until they felt like it. Instead cats poop in a box. How disgusting. Additionally, cats are fussy eaters and consider vomiting to be socially acceptable. What can you expect from a creature that licks itself instead of shaking all over to get rid of loose fur? And they claim they’re intelligent? Grrrr……………………………………………………………………………

Spot! I hear footsteps! They’re home– turn off the computer. Look natural. Let Fluffy out of the closet………….baad cat!

Sunday Morning

Shortly after sunrise, I am awakened by Caboodle’s plaintive mewing outside my bedroom door. It is 5:31 a.m. Although I have attempted to explain the difference between weekend mornings and workday mornings to my three felines, they insist on treating the days uniformly. I greet this day with a groan and rise to feed the cats.

Since I am up and the morning is pleasantly cool, I decide to walk into Easthampton center and buy a cup of coffee. Later on this midsummer day, it will be too hot for such activity. I water my small garden before setting forth. The cucumber plant is thriving.

The cats peer out the window, wordlessly inquiring where I am going so early.

Along the Manhan Rail Trail I go, pausing here and there to admire ducks lazily swimming on the pond or the reflection of one of the mill buildings on the water. A blue wildflower catches my eye, as well.

It feels good to stretch my legs, to be up and out when much of the world is still sleeping. A gentle breeze offers a passing caress. Perhaps Caboodle knows best.

Teach Them to Use the Internet and They Won’t Bother You for Weeks

Scientists in Japan find evidence that monkeys like to watch TV. Well, duh. Don’t you think it gets boring sitting around in some lab all day? Open the cage door and see how long they stick around watching C-Span.

I have an uncomfortable sense that myself clicking a mouse and a hamster pressing a bar on a pellet dispenser would look the same on a brain scan.

In later experiments the monkeys will be given a bowl of chips and a remote. Stay tuned, or look it up on the net.

Snake Shortage

Should we be worried about this? ‘Possible Snake Shortage Looms’ is the headline on Science News…

The new finding strikes herpetologist Harry Greene of Cornell University as “deeply troubling.” Checking for trends in other populations will be difficult, he says, because snakes are notoriously hard to count. “Being secretive is a very snakey thing.”

I’ll keep an eye out at the Pond Procession on Saturday. I saw some critters at the edge of a lot on a dead-end off Elmwood Avenue yesterday. They were squirrel size, but round, brown and chubby. Muskrats? Anyone have a guess?