#MentalHealthMonday – Our Furry Friends

As I said before, I’m really going to try to do a better job of keeping social media and the website updated at least periodically so I can maintain visibility and awareness and not just have a little blip of activity and then go dark until festival season is starting again next year.

I’ve been pondering ways to do this without getting too heavy. While I’ve been playing around with Twitter for the first time ever, I noticed there was a #MentalHealthMonday hashtag that seems popular. I thought it might be a fun idea to start posting something every Monday that helps me with my mental health. Then I researched its origin just to make sure I wasn’t being disrespectful, and it turns out that’s pretty much exactly what it’s for. (Forgive me if this is painfully obvious to a lot of you, again, I’m a newbie with a lot of this stuff).

So this week, I’m going to mention what is one of my very most important: My cats. I’ll admit as a lonely librarian spinster I may dote on my cats more than a lot of people do. But they are the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning (sometimes getting my hand bitten for food), and the last thing when I go to bed at night—often purring and curling up right next to me.

Pets have been proven to be very helpful for mental health in at least a few ways. Pets can provide unconditional love and companionship, as well as physical affection through cuddling that automatically releases feel-good pheromones. On the flip side, having something to take care of and take responsibility for is often an instant catalyst for a positive mood.

Pictured are my tabby cats Hank and Bandit Jr. As you can see, they are unusual cats in that they seem to really like each other. They are almost aggressively affectionate and even like most strangers, running up to them, rubbing against them, and rolling around to impress someone new and get more pets. They’re adorable little goofballs who will do almost anything to get attention sometimes (What’s that they say, pets take after their owners)?

I can’t even begin to enumerate the ways in which my furbabies help my mental health. Their cute antics bring me out of my head and make me laugh. Mornings during the shelter-in-place order of the pandemic I’d wake up scared and lonely and I’d see them in the living room, flopped over and sunning their bellies, and it was impossible not to feel a little lift in mood. And then, people often say animals have a sixth sense when it comes to *your* moods. Whenever I’m sick or depressed, even if I’m not showing obvious outward symptoms, they somehow seem to know I need extra cuddles and kneading.

Here’s to our furry friends on #MentalHealthMonday.

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