People who own pets feel healthier after this year of lockdown


Good news about all those clear-the-shelter adoption stories from last year, those matches benefitted everyone in the end. Not only did the rescue pets get homes, but the folks who adopted them have seen health benefits as a result. So give Mr. Whiskers and Ms. Woofers an extra treat tonight because they’re the reason you made it through this challenging time. According to, 93% of pet owners said their furry offspring helped their overall wellbeing during the quarantine.

A new report from, which polled 1,000 pet owners, explores who has welcomed new pets into their homes since last March. Only 13% of those polled said their new pandemic pet is their only animal, compared to 66% who already had a cat or a dog in their home when they adopted an animal over the past year.

According to, “93% of people said their ‘pandemic pet’ improved their mental and/or physical wellbeing in the last year and over 80% said it made working from home and being at home during the pandemic more enjoyable.”

“The top two reasons why people adopted a cat or dog in the last year are for emotional support and happiness (41%) [and because] they needed something positive in their life (39%),” the group added.

[From People]

None of this surprises me, but I am thrilled to read it just the same. I was a little afraid we might see some stories with surrender (returning one’s adopted pet) numbers a year after the fact. Not that I thought people were foolhardy in their adoptions, but pet care is a big responsibility. For example, the article mentioned that 54% of the people polled adjusted their budgets to accommodate for pet expenses. Plus there is the investment of time and energy for activity and to keep them mentally sharp (boredom leads to chewed up shoes and furniture). The article also talked about how, now that folks are preparing to go back to the office, they’re worried how their pet will do with them being at home less. I get this. I, fortunately, don’t have to worry about that. But if I did, I’d be currently be researching live cams so I could talk to my dogs all day.

There is no doubt that pets are a huge boost to mental health. We recently had a family member dealing with some mental health issues and when they were preparing to leave their facility, one of the first questions all the case workers/counselors asked during the exit interviews was, “do you have a pet at home?” because they have proven so effective when someone is triggered and at helping people maintain their equilibrium. And we’ve needed that comfort this year more than ever. Which makes me think of people who want to spend more time with animals but can’t adopt. I think about the service pet programs they bring to hospitals and assisted living facilities. I was looking into some kind of pet-loaning program for my mom, who would love a dog but can’t commit to one full time. I actually found some possible creative options, but none of them were available during COVID. If you can welcome a pet into your life, that’s wonderful and you’ll never be sorry. If you’re a pet parent and know someone who is suffering but unable to have a pet, maybe you can arrange for them to have some time with yours. A walk, a meet up in the park or a snuggle session. Depending on how close you are, maybe even a sleepover – something that allows them that connection.




Photos credit: Erick Lee Odge, Erik McLead, Jeremy Perkens, Joshua Fernandez, Mitchell Orr and Vitor Fontes on Unsplash

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28 Responses to “People who own pets feel healthier after this year of lockdown”

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  1. Merricat says:

    I love this story. If you can’t afford a pet, pet-sitting is a great way to make furry friends and also a bit of money.

  2. Case says:

    I adopted my two cats a year before COVID, but they absolutely got me through this year. I live alone (besides them!) and they’re the best little quaran-team I could ask for! I would’ve been so lonely and overwhelmed without them. They make my life feel full and happy.

  3. MaryContrary says:

    Our dog and cat have been a life saver for our family this year. They are so entertaining and engaging it has really helped. On the flip side, our 11 month old Great Dane puppy dropped dead in the kitchen last June-and it was devastating to our family. Two of my kids ended up in therapy from the grief over losing her and dealing with covid.

  4. Eleonor says:

    I am not good in this moment, but as a cat guardian I can say: my cat keeps me my mental health on track.
    When I am anxious she sleeps with me, and she has been making me laugh a lot.

    • Wiglet Watcher says:

      Moments pass. I hope yours does by the time you read this!

    • Pusspants says:

      I’m sorry your not doing well right now. When I’m feeling that way I lay on my living room floor and at least one of my two cats comes over and starts sniffing my face. Which never fails to make me feel better.

  5. Nicole says:

    I got my beautiful Bella last month. There have been some rough patches as we continue to get to know each other, but I am so grateful. I walk more, I’ve learned my community more. And I just plain have some company so I don’t have to wallow in my misery. She is very soothing.

  6. psl says:

    My doggie is my everything. He has always gotten me through hard times, and this was not an exception. Taking him for walks was the only way I left our house or yard for months. Just getting out and seeing neighbors across the street was a nice break from solitude.

    I don’t know how anyone lives without a pet. Other than being allergic, I don’t trust people who don’t like animals.

  7. Jess says:

    I have a pandemic puppy, got her 3 days before lockdown started, and she’s brought us so much joy it hurts even thinking about it. She’s definitely used to at least one person being home with her at all times.!My husband and I treat her like a baby and make sure our schedules allow someone to be home, lol. We can’t stand to leave her more than a few hours, she needs a sibling.

  8. lucy2 says:

    I’m currently holding 1 cat like a baby, so yeah, all of this!

  9. psl says:

    Adding another comment – I am afraid of the amount of people who will dump their “Covid pet” when they return to the office… is going to happen, but I hope most people realize a pet is a family member and keep them.

    • Merricat says:

      This is why I frequently prefer animals to so-called humans. There is no excuse for dumping a pet.

  10. escondista says:

    We have 4 chickens and they’ve been so fun to raise and care for this year!

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Fostering a shelter dog can be a great way also to enjoy and care for an animal if you can’t make a long term commitment!

  12. SpankyB says:

    I don’t know. I’m getting a lot less sleep now that I have cats. That can’t be healthy. Mom cat wants a snack every morning at 4:00am. She doesn’t get one, but that doesn’t stop her from whisper-meowing in my face every 15 min to try and convince me she’s going to starve if she doesn’t get her snack.

    Her whisper-meow is hilarious. She gets right my face to do it, you know, so as not to wake everyone else. Just me. Good thing she’s adorable.

    • Case says:

      I’m so sorry you’re losing sleep, but this comment made me laugh out loud. Cats are such quirky little critters. My one cat thinks he needs food at 5 a.m. most mornings despite the fact that I feed him at the same time every morning, hours later.

  13. whateveryousay says:

    I think an article came out this weekend or someone on Twitter was talking about how many people are abandoning or returning pets after COVID. Made me so angry.

  14. Leah says:

    I have two cats and even though I am an introvert they have helped me through the past year.

    They are pre-pandemic kitties so they’ve been my roommates for a while but they got the title of co-workers last year. They keep me grounded. Animals teach you humility when you have small fuzzies that depend on you from everything from food, cuddles and yearly check up visits to the vet. Cats are sticklers for routine so a 6am feeding time is normal in my house.

  15. Pusspants says:

    I’m feeling a little salty that all the pics above are dogs. Cats often get short shrift and they’re awesome! Affectionate but also independent. What’s not to love?!?

  16. Léna says:

    I adopted a cat (around 5 years old, sick, shelter did not how for how long he was in the streets) in October. It was a long time coming, always wanted a pet. He is adorable and is also challenging (due to living in the streets he feels he always needs to steals our food to never miss on any). But I love him so much. I was unhappy in my first job after my Master and he helped me get through it. Now I found a new job, got a bigger flat and he can even enjoy a large balcony! I’ll probably work 90% of the time at home even after COVID, and I plan on adoring more pets. They fill me with so much joy. I feel like a proud mom when he doesn’t still any food for a day and has a full night of sleep lol

  17. The lady says:

    Maybe it’s just because my new birth control but this article gave me a crazy emotional spin and I cried because I love my cat so much 😂 I wish I could share him with people who need a tiny something to nuzzle.

  18. Annalise says:

    I know that I get WAY more exercise as a result of being a dog owner, because if I have to go somewhere (somewhere that allows dogs of course) it’s an excuse to give my dog a walk. In fact, walking my dog is one of my absolute favorite things to do. It’s very zen, my dog doesn’t make me converse with him so it helps me clear my mind. My favorite time to walk him is late night because it’s quieter, way fewer people out, also I’m a little bit of a night owl. Plus I live in San Francisco which is a very walk-friendly city. Even still I know I would be ubering a LOT more if I didn’t have my fur-baby’s health to think about. I have a Samsung phone and I love how it automatically clocks the amount of steps you take and translates that into miles for you, and there have been periods where I was walking an average of 3.5 miles a day! On the very odd day that my dog doesn’t get at least one decent walk, the difference in his attitude and behavior is dramatic. He becomes grumpy, WAY more barky, visibly depressed even! Which to me just re-affirms the mind-body connection.

  19. StrawberryBlonde says:

    I have always had a pet. But our cat died Dec 2019 and our dog died Jan 2020. Our son was almost 11 months when our dog died. We couldn’t imagine getting a puppy with a baby. We would love to get a puppy and kitten (I especially want the kitten) when our son is older, if he is interested. I am however enjoying not having slobber, fur or a litter box for the first time ever. Our dog was a wonderful old boi American Bulldog. He was good with the baby but whined every single time my husband was around our son. We think it was a bit of jealousy. I honestly am not sure how I could have handled the whining + working from home with a 1 year old this past summer.

  20. Asiyah says:

    This reminds me how much I miss my cat. He passed away on December 31, 2020. We had to put him down. I’ve been depressed ever since. I miss you, Mouzii. Ten years of being your mommy was the greatest privilege I’ve had. You came with me to Australia from NYC years ago and I know it was quite a journey for you but you did enjoy going out to the yard and taking in the scenery, a luxury not afforded to you in Harlem or the Bronx. I thank God every day that He blessed me with taking care of you. Mommy and Daddy love you.