I’m an introvert, and I’ve had several pets over the course of my life.
Currently, I’m a pet mom to a friendly and cuddly grey kitty.
And in the last month, I got a blue veiltail betta fish PLUS tiger nerite snail!
* Side Note: I observed the snail for the first couple of days to make sure the betta wouldn’t attack him incessantly, since bettas can be incredibly territorial as fighting fish. I am happy to report that they are now friends…or tolerant tank buddies at least.
Pets were always furry — or scaly, if they were reptilian — companions that I felt a natural affinity with, even as a young child.
While not all introverts are pet lovers, I’m sure that many of us have felt that sense of ease and acceptance with animal companionship.
Here are four vital ways in which pets have a positive effect on the lives and overall wellness of introverts.
Updated on 19th August 2019: I’ve posted my first vlog featuring my pets!
With all the hoops introverts have to go through when it comes to social engagement, simply relaxing with a pet at home looks — and is — a whole lot more relaxing than going to a group outing with lots of external stimulation.
Being with a pet helps you to appreciate being in the present. Embracing this can be crucial if you’re prone to anxiety or depression, which many introverts are.
Being a pet owner is a wonderful way to connect with other pet owners in terms of a similar interest. There’s always a story or pet care tip that you can quickly bond over.
Pets are always there for us when we get home after a long day at work. They won’t subject us to prolonged bouts of small talk which can make us feel bored or listless. Some days, we might not feel like we have anything to talk about with fellow human beings. But if you treat your pet well, their quiet companionship and friendship is something that will always be there for you.
The responsibility and act of caring for a pet gives us something safe to return to. The peace and solace I have with pets is something warm and welcoming in a world that is often colored with violence, craziness, and narcissism.
A long-term study found that dogs could help to reduce cardiovascular risk by providing social support and increasing physical activity. Having to wake up early or take your dog out for a daily walk each day after work is a great way to fit in some exercise into your routine.
Researchers and scientists have discovered that having a cat helps to relieve stress, which in turn helps to prevent heart disease. Blood pressure is lowered and the heart rate is reduced. Owning a cat can also reduce the risk of stroke by thirty percent.
This reminds me of yoga, a form of exercise I’ve been doing for over a decade. When I see cats and dogs stretching, it immediately reminds me to limber up! I’ve found that playing with my cat and sweeping kitty litter off the ground with a hand broom and dustpan are other short bursts of exercise to conveniently add to my routine.
I’m also reminded of when I was a young child. My family had a huge fish tank and I had a couple of turtles. Watching my parents regularly clean the tank reminded me of the importance of hygiene and keeping my own living space neat and tidy. I also quickly learned that a turtle’s dirty tank really smells when it’s not cleaned frequently, and I still remember how quickly slime would grow on the stones and rocks whenever I cleaned out the tank. While I may not have been a neatfreak 24/7, these early experiences made a big impression on me in terms of cleanliness and responsibility.
Pets don’t judge you based on your beliefs or values. They won’t put you down for having a controversial opinion. They don’t nag and they don’t have unrealistic expectations apart from having their basic necessities met. And if you’d rather stay home with your pet than go out on a weekend or Friday evening, I doubt your pet would complain!
Did you know that interacting with pets actually lowers our stress hormones? Our pet companions have a positive effect on our quality of life in many different ways. For example, having a nightly routine where you care for your pet could bring stability to an otherwise erratic nighttime schedule.
Whenever I’m feeling very sad, my cat Breadloaf definitely knows I’m feeling blue and reacts in her own way. Sometimes, her meows start escalating, while she simply sits and cuddles beside me without a sound at other times. While I appreciate support from fellow human beings, there is a very pure and unconditional aspect when a pet loves you back–which can help an introvert feel less alone during those dark days where everything seems bleak and hopeless. The soothing effect has a direct and very real impact on our emotions, which can ebb and flow depending on time and circumstance.
My journey towards being a cat owner started at the local animal shelter. This also happened around the same time that I started reading some personal finance books by Dave Ramsey. It’s how I learned that charitable giving is part of Ramsey’s approach to budgeting.
There have been times in my life where I’ve been a bit of a tightwad. But seeing the work that’s involved with animal shelters, and observing the care and love on the part of volunteers made a big impression. I also came to know of virtual volunteering sites like Catchafire where potential volunteers could be linked up with non-profits depending on their skills and interest. This is a great way for “quieter” types to get involved with causes or organizations.
And while this is the saddest part about having a pet, there will come a day when the pet takes his or her last breath. It makes you reflect upon death and dying, and helps you come to terms with intense emotions like grief and fear. This extends to your human relations too as neither humans nor pets have a monopoly on our deep feelings.
And this, fellow introverts, is why a pet can be so supportive to our well-being on a four dimensional level. They may enter our lives in different ways, but they definitely leave pawprints in our minds and hearts.
Jess Chua is an INFJ who’s passionate about empowering other introverts to live their best life. She has been quoted in articles on Apartment Therapy, Forbes, and Student Loan Hero.
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