Gain the mental health benefits of spending time with cats and dogs, without owning one
Posted on: 10 October 2018 by Alan Irvine
Spending time with pets brings many mental and physical health benefits. Home and pet sitting is an excellent way for animal lovers to gain all the benefits of pet ownership without the commitment.
It’s World Mental Health Day on 10th October – an annual event that seeks to raise awareness of mental health and how it can be improved.
Having pets is renowned as being good for mental wellbeing. Research[i] published this year in BMC Psychiatry suggests that keeping cats and dogs as pets could be improving people’s mental health and might contribute to the management of long-term mental health conditions.
The study also pointed out the negative aspects of pet ownership, including the practical and emotional burden of pet ownership and the psychological impact of losing a pet.
One way round this is to become a home and pet sitter, which is an increasingly popular form of employment for retired people – allowing them to spend time with cats and dogs and enjoy all the mental health benefits without actually owning one.
Our homesitters tend to be fit and active people in their 50s, 60s and 70s who are employed to stay in people’s homes while they’re away and look after their pets. This gives all the benefits of spending time with animals with none of the long-term responsibility.
Looking after people’s pets is the biggest perk of the job for the majority of our homesitters. Many have either lost a pet and decided not replace it or simply don’t want to commit to owning a cat or dog. Homesitting is an excellent way for animal lovers to gain all the benefits of pet ownership without the commitment.
Spending time with pets brings many mental and physical health benefits. For instance, it has been found to lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in bodies.[ii] In fact, non-pet owners are four times more likely to be diagnosed with clinical depression than pet owners.[iii]
The Mental Health Foundation[iv] found that 87% of people who owned a cat felt it had a positive impact on their wellbeing, while 76% said they could cope with everyday life much better thanks to the company of their feline friends.
Even a cat purr is known to be medically therapeutic for illnesses in humans[v], not only lowering stress and anxiety, but reducing blood pressure, helping to heal infections and even healing bones.
One homesitter describes the role as a “cat lovers dream”. Ellen Hart a sixty five year old former orthopaedic nurse from Berkshire has been home and pet sitting since she retired.
Discussing why home and pet sitting appeals, Ellen says, “I wanted to do something useful and interesting when I retired. Since becoming a homesitter I have stayed in gorgeous properties ranging from beautiful townhouses to characterful thatched cottages and met some lovely people.
“Looking after cats is my favourite thing though. I love making sure they are happy and we have great fun together. A real highlight is going back to repeat clients as it’s like a home from home, and the animals are so happy to see you again,” adds Ellen.
Homesitters Ltd are currently recruiting, if you’d like to find out more about home and pet sitting visit www.homesitters.co.uk