National Pet Day was first established in 2006 and is celebrated on April 11th each year with the purpose of both celebrating how pets enrich the lives of their owners and also raising general public awareness about just how many animals are sitting in shelters and rescue organizations across the country, waiting to find their forever homes. For many pet owners, it is impossible to imagine their family without their pet as part of it, and yet many individuals have yet to experience this amazing bond.

Pets As Family

Bringing a pet into your life means taking on a lot of extra responsibility, which can be a big adjustment for individuals who have never before owned a pet. However, the fact is that pets who are really well loved and cared for tend to repay their owners many times over, making the responsibilities of owning a pet very well worth it. But while the relationship between pets and their owners may be very deep, it may still drive some to wonder how humans and animals became so closely bonded in the first place, and why humans are so willing to consider their pets an important part of their family.

When considering the relationship between pets and their owners, an important starting point is taking a look at how humans will usually try to make the choices and decisions that are highly beneficial to them. Though our choices and decisions are not always best, we often try to put our health and happiness first, as this can assist us in living comfortable, satisfying and fulfilling lives. Many studies have actually shown that pet owners have better mental and physical health conditions and are happier than individuals who don’t own pets. More specifically, cat and dog owners tend to experience lower levels of stress, lower blood pressure, better mental health, less loneliness, and more opportunities to meet new people than individuals who don’t own a cat or dog. Some pet owners can clearly see how interacting with their cat or dog helps them to feel better after a long day or when other circumstances have made them feel a little down. Perhaps this is just one of the many reasons why humans began to more closely associate with their pets–they recognized that they did better when their pets were around.

In addition to helping their owners lead healthier and happier lives, pets can undertake certain actions that make their owners feel protected and safe. For example, dogs often bark to alert their owner if they think that something is wrong, and cats will sometimes wake up their owner if they feel that there is danger lurking. Whether or not we are entirely consciously aware of our pet’s sort of “sixth sense” about the environment, we tend to feel safer and more protected if they are around, which makes keeping them close by even more important.

It’s certainly true that pet ownership requires responsibility, but the truth is that their needs are generally very simple–they need food and shelter so that they are safe and comfortable, and they want to be able to give and receive love freely with their owner. In fact, in these respects, they are truly not all that different from humans. Our pets can experience happiness and sadness just as we do, they have strong mothering-instincts just as we do, they display sympathy and empathy where needed just as we do, and they show excitement when they see someone or something they love and laziness and disinterest when they are bored just as we do. If this connection wasn’t enough to bring pets and humans together closely, there is also the fact that pets never render judgment, making them invaluable confidants. What more could we ask for in a family member?