pets for mental health

When college students move away for school, leaving the people and places they love, many face loneliness. Pets can be a cure.

You can see a therapist and take medication. You may even self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. But pets are better at seeing you through the hard times, relieving stress and giving you the love you crave.

Daniela Urena is a senior in college studying biomedical sciences. Throughout her college years away at a school, she left her dog back home to stay with her family. 

“All my friends have pets, and they always tell me they comfort them. After the COVID hit, I was so sad and depressed due to personal and academic reasons. So I decided to get my cat Lovely,” said Urena. 

Lovely’s third day in her new house with her mother Daniela. Photo by owner Daniela Urena.

It is never too late to get a pet, and Daniela being in her last year of college shows that having a pet is good for a college student’s mental health.

Seniors in college are not the only ones understanding the concept of having a furry best friend.

“Having Rex calmed me down when I was at my worst,” said Melanie Feliz, a college graduate, who had her pet on campus for her last two years of school.

“I was so alone. My family is all the way in the Bronx and I realized, if I’m getting older I can make big girl decisions such as having a pet of my own. After I got him, I swear I never went back outside to a college party again,” she said. 

Being around nothing but love can be so fulfilling in a moment where it’s most needed. For Freshman Kayla Mitchell, having a pet made all the difference.

“My mental health before getting a pet for college was declining very quickly since I didn’t know anybody and I only had myself and was facing separation anxiety from my family. After I got myself a new kitten, I was relieved from stress because, although I’m taking on a new responsibility, I had drive,” said freshman Kayla Mitchell. 

When she came to college in the first semester of freshman year, Mitchell realized she needed a cuddle buddy cat named Tink. 

Freshman college student Kayla Mitchell and her pet cat Tink. Photo by owner Kayla Mitchell.

According to cnbc.com, only 4% of colleges allow cats and dogs. Service dogs and emotional support animals are allowed everywhere; however, there are few schools that will allow anyone to bring along their pet. Whether it’s a dog, cat or even a fish, a pet will allow college students to feel the love and support they need.  

Being in college can be tiring and overwhelming to the point where you have breakdowns and all you need to make you feel a tad better is a hug. The best feeling is being able to do a final test and have your best friend next to you lowering the stress.

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