Forget the rides and the late night eats, two weeks ago Uber expanded their services to delivering kittens for one day. #uberKITTENS was delivering cuddle sessions from county shelters to workplaces and homes, with a goal of bringing awareness to pet adoption. This is an issue that is easy to forget, but according to the Humane Society, every 13 seconds an animal is euthanized in the United States. While the overpopulation of healthy animals is a problem, the benefits of adopting an animal are not just limited to the adoptee, but extend to the adopter as well.
Being smitten with a kitten or having a playful pup is good for the head and heart, but did you know that having a pet is correlated with a longer lifespan? Jeanie Davis from WebMD states that there are physiological benefits to owning a pet like higher immune system activity. In addition, your animal’s shiny coat carries particles that, through exposure, help reduce the likelihood of allergies and eczema by 50 percent. This was most profound in children who grew up with pets. Another study with stockbrokers with high-stakes jobs showed that those who’ve adopted a cat or dog have lower blood pressure even in stressful situations. Other research has found that blood pressure in animals actually drops in correlation with the human’s when they are being petted. After the interaction, cortisol was reduced in the body along with plaque buildup over time. The same article found that pet owners have lower cholesterol levels and those who have suffered heart attacks live two times longer with a pet in the home. Along with the myriad of other physical benefits, playing with a pet or walking a dog was shown to decrease weight. It’s one thing to blow off the spin class you were planning on taking, but much harder to deprive your little fur ball their walk for the day.
Benefits of animals are not just limited to your physical health but also your mental health. Turn off Netflix, step away from the computer, and play with your dog – this provides a natural “high,” as your serotonin and dopamine levels heighten. Those feelings promote pleasure and peace in as little as 15-30 minutes. Those in stressful jobs, like the aforementioned stockbrokers, benefited from lower anxiety after petting their animals. Not only do you want to pet them but so do others. Taking your pet outside can increase the likelihood of social encounters with others which further increases levels of happiness and belonging. Not to mention that a cute animal is an excellent wingman.
When you adopt a pet you aren’t just saving a life you are adding great benefits to your life as well. From the obvious like a warm pet to snuggle with or an excited face to greet you when you get home, you’ll also be improving your physical and mental health. You’ll also be making room for another animal in a shelter to have the opportunity of adoption. As humans, our instinct is to give love and be needed and that is exactly what your furry little monster will provide. Thanks to #UberKITTENS, participants got to experience some of these benefits for a period of time but they also thrust this very important issue back into the spotlight for the rest of us.