The holidays can be a great time to make fun memories and good cheer. But that’s not the case for everyone and the holidays can be a challenging time for a lot of people. The good news is that pets can help you cope with loneliness, depression and anxiety during the holidays (and really any time of the year).

Some of the reasons why people may be struggling during the holidays include (but are not limited to):

  • Missing loved ones who are no longer with us at this special time of year
  • Being lonely and not having anyone to share the season with
  • Not feeling physically well or coping with a loved one that’s not feeling well
  • Not feeling financially secure particularly when so much emphasis is placed on buying gifts and material items, and we may not be able to participate
  • Feeling bad about our own family dynamic including dysfunctional family relationships
  • Having unrealistic expectations about what the holiday season is supposed to feel like (we don’t have to tell you that real life is often very different from what’s portrayed on TV and social media)

If you’re not feeling in the holiday spirit this year and you have a furry friend, consider yourself lucky because our pets (and yes, our cats) offer many healing benefits just by being themselves!

Petting Your Pet Offers Stress Relief

Studies have shown the power that companion animals have to help reduce our stress levels. In one study, people were asked to pet a real animal versus a stuffed animal and the results show clear benefits of petting live animals. So give your cat or dog (or guinea pig) some extra love and attention this holiday season. They’ll love you for it, and you’re sure to feel better. 

Plan Your Holiday Time and Include Your Pets

If you aren’t sharing the holidays with other humans, plan a fun and indulgent day for yourself – and if you have pets, be sure to include them! Consider planning a day of Netflix comedies, prepare your favorite meal and be sure to spend quality time with your cats too. If you’re so inclined, pick out a special meal and toy at the pet store for Fluffy and enjoy treating him/her. Or select a good book to read, brew some tea, light a candle (with your flameless candle warmer, of course) and curl up with Fluffy and a cozy blanket. Whatever your idea of fun is, plan ahead and do it!

Tune in to the Purr

Science has shown that cat purrs have both stress-relieving and physical healing effects. So when you make your cat purr, you’re both benefiting tremendously. If you don’t have a cat, try Purrli, the online cat purr generator. 

Volunteer during the Holiday Season

Sometimes getting out of the house and helping those less fortunate than oneself is a great way to spend the holidays. Many organizations need volunteer help at this time of year, so your contribution will be especially appreciated. Consider volunteering at an animal rescue, a soup kitchen, or any other charity that tugs at your heart. Many times giving makes us feel better, moreso that receiving. 

Limit Time on Social Media

Studies have shown that using social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram can actually increase symptoms of depression and anxiety. People tend to post the “highlight reel” of their life, omitting any challenges or difficulties that we all face as human beings. Try to stay off of social media if you find that it depresses you or increases your anxiety. If you just can’t stay off, tune into pages like The Catnip Times (yes, we’re biased) for a dose of cuteness and feel-good  funny posts!

It may not always be evident that someone is feeling lonely or is struggling during the holidays. Try to be sensitive and mindful that while you may think it’s the best time of the year – it may be a real struggle for others. 

Has your pet helped you through difficult times? If so, tell us how in the comments!

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