It isn’t uncommon to hear stories about people coping with their grief by interacting with animal companions. For example, an Oregon woman named Melodie Ryan lost her husband John Ruby in the Substation Fire that started up in the state because he was one of the firefighters who participated in the effort to bring it under control. When John’s colleagues found a two-week-old kitten while fighting the fire, they decided to name him John in honor of their fallen friend, which led to Melodie visiting him on the day of his namesake’s funeral when she learned of his existence. One visit soon turned into a succession of visits, with the result that Melodie has now adopted John, who she calls Little John because just calling him John gets the family dog to look for his owner. On the whole, Little John has done much to help Melodie’s mood by keeping her mind occupied as well as helping her laugh again with his antics.
Speaking of which, there is another recent story from the state of Tennessee. In that case, the Brooks family lost the husband and father Christopher Brooks, who was a firefighter who was killed in a motorcycle accident. They winded up bringing a kitten named Lucky home, who had been found by the fire department after chasing her around the engine compartment of their car for about 45 minutes. As such, the Brooks family chose to bring the cat home, both to keep their minds busy and to serve as a reminder of Christopher Brooks’s service with the fire department.
How Do Cats Help People Cope with Grief?
As stated earlier, it isn’t uncommon to hear stories about people coping with their grief with the help of pets. There is no guarantee that this particular approach will work for all individuals out there because different people grieve in different ways. However, pets are definitely one tool that some people will use to help with their grieving process in much the same manner that other people might use counselling as well as support groups. Generally speaking when people think of animals that are in tune with human emotions, they tend to think of dogs. However, it is important to note that cats are perfectly capable of providing emotional support for people, as shown by the two stories mentioned here.
Of course, there are those who will be very interested in the effectiveness of cats at providing emotional support to cat owners. If so, there is actually some information out there that can be found about this, which is unsurprising considering the sheer amount of time that humans spend in contact with our beloved feline companions.
For starters, cats are great for human mental health. In part, this is because cats serve to relieve stress, which is something that can have a corrosive effect on a person’s physical and mental health over time. However, it should also be noted that the relationship between a cat and a cat owner can be very positive in nature, thus serving to bolster them in their times of need.
On top of this, cats are good at providing a very independent kind of companionship, which can be exactly what people who are grieving need to help them cope. In short, people who are grieving need companionship because it can be very easy for them to fall into a depression by withdrawing from everything that used to matter to them. As a result, having a cat serves to make that potential path that much less likely. Dogs can provide something similar, but the issue with dogs is that they can be pretty needy animals as well, which is something that can have a detrimental impact on some dog owners who are in the process of grieving. In contrast, cats tend to make it easier for cat owners who are grieving to go at their own pace because cats are inherently more independent, which can help prevent said individuals from feeling overwhelmed.
Ultimately, there is no such thing as an ultimate pet for helping people cope with their grief because there is no such thing as a one true way to process such emotions. However, it is clear that cats as well as other companion animals can be very helpful by being there for us when we need that kind of emotional support.