The Stunning Power of Pets on Your Happiness and Health

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Late start today!

I’ve just seen my cat Jenny shuttling around my parent’s place and it gave me cause to think about the world before having pets around.

Animals first came into my life in 2014, pretty much by accident.

I was living (weird saying that now) in Rio, Brazil for a couple of months and one evening I found myself up in the hills by the beach that housed Vidigal – a Favela that had apparently been ‘secured’ by the military.

Although apparently, murders were still a somewhat regular occurrence in the area.

Later that evening – the only evening I spent there – I would end up meeting a distressed little kitten that seemed to have been discarded – and would end up being whisked away by myself down the mountain.

Of course, at that specific moment I was drinking caipirinha’s, was pretty drunk and taking a little cat home to my bunk bed in the hostel I was staying in seemed to be a sensible enough option.

Truth is, I still think I would have taken Samantha (as I would ultimately call her) even if I was sober.

I was in Brazil, truly living an adventure as I went there to fight Muay Thai, and was by myself meeting holidaymakers as well as locals – but I was also lonely – nursing my hurt from a failed relationship.

So the next morning I would wake up in the hostel with a kitten running around in the room that housed 8 but thankfully was currently only sleeping 4. Samantha had already taken a crap on one corner of the hostel and so I needed to find a place to rent fast.

I wasn’t sure cats were even allowed in the hostel, and regardless – I had no intention of living in a hostel for 3-months – so needed to find a place to move into fast.

And so began my 3-month adventure in Brazil with Samantha.

She bought responsibility into my life and activated my caregiving instincts. She needed to see a vet, she needed a home and she needed to be nurtured and so over the months, I figured out how to provide at least some of those things.

Anyway – this isn’t my story about the cats of my life. I feel like that’s written somewhere else online (I leave it to you you wily reader to figure out where that is) – but more about what I’ve seen happen since that first moment within my family.

There is some saying that once one of the people around you do something that is new or no-one has thought about before – than many can start following suit.

Samatha would ultimately remain in Brazil as I didn’t want to figure out how bringing a cat from Brazil to Europe worked out because it seemed awfully complicated.

She would need to be kept in quarantine for several months – and I’d only realised this towards the end of my trip.

As I entered the 2nd month of my 3-months in Brazil, I resolved to figure out how I could bring Samantha back to the UK. Upon looking into it – it looked like it was going to be god-awful complicated.

Once I’d had my first fight in Brazil – and had won via technical knockout, and realised I’d fractured two of my toes some weeks later – it felt like my time was done.

I’d completed a significant landmark whilst there and I was ready to move one.

And I wished to take Samantha with me.

I, in the end, left her with my Muay Thai coach Victor, without really asking for his permission.

I’d just been simply due to leave the country to catch a plane to Barcelona from Rio, and I remember still being with Samantha and trying to figure out what the best thing to do with her was.

I had met a new friend who had several pets and I’d asked him – but he said he had no space for more in his small flat and that it would cause problems for him with his other pets.

So I turned up at Victor’s family door – all ready to head to the airport and simply left him with Samantha.

When you do that to somebody – you don’t leave them with much choice in the matter. So there was not a lot that Victor could say or do in the way of making excuses.

But I knew him well, and he was happy to bring her into his home and take care of her – as I believe he still does to this day.

I woke up (late as you can see) this morning – not knowing specifically what I would write about until I saw Jenny (my cat I’ve had for the last 5 years) and Tommy (about the same time – but he’s now my parents’ cat) crashing around the house.

It’s been interesting to see what bringing Tommy and Jenny into the lives of my parents in 2015 when I moved back home has done for them.

When you go back to your family home and see parents who have spent all of their adult lives caring for their children without anyone to look after….it’s something of an emptier home.

My parents have never been the romantic type, my dad is a man of practicality and function and speaks when things need to be said – and yet my mum is full of warmth, energy and wants to sing, laugh and smile and adores interaction.

They’re pretty different in this way.

Bringing Tommy and Jenny into their lives than was nothing less than a huge shock.

After losing Samantha, some months later when I was living in Amsterdam, I had found another cat for a brief period that this time I’d decided to call Rachel.

Strawberry, my parents still laughs about it because she finds it super odd that I’ve given all of my pet’s female names. ‘Stripper names’ as she’ll call them. She isn’t wrong about it being odd they’re all human names.

I’ve just never felt an animal should be given some ‘silly’ type of name like ‘Bruno’ or ‘Boxer’ or ‘Cake’ or something when they’re a member of your family.

Rachel would come and go from my brief 4-week existence in Holland as well when she’d go from suddenly appearing in the flat I was staying in for around a week as I began feeding her and she started spending more and more time in our flat…

To then discovering that the owner who I thought had abandoned her had actually locked her out by accident whilst he was away. All of this was unbeknownst to me – but the next-door neighbour of the flat I was staying in actually saw flyers stuck to a lamppost with Rachel upon them – asking if anyone had seen this cat.

The moment when you realise the owner who had seemed negligent in the first place was looking for his cat – you can’t do anything in the end but ultimately return it.

The first time I was to meet Rachel’s owner he quickly explained that his mum had locked the cat out by accident when she had come over to feed him without realising it. And then this was how I’d met Rachel when she went off stumbling for food.

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I digress too much now (for basically most of the blog lol).

It’s funny this writing thing – it’s meditative and makes me feel very peaceful inside.

I have asked my SEO team to identify some keywords I could look at writing around as a means of more powerfully ranking my blog on Google.

Although that idea really doesn’t appeal to me much.

At heart, I’m much more of a creative than I am a business owner. The problem is, is that I’m a creative with some business ambition.

But as per the discussion I had with Strawberry a few days back – my agency Pearl Lemon really is my day job – and it’s the ‘fly by night’ work I do – such as all of the effort I put into writing this blog – that is the stuff I enjoy.

I’m glad you’re here if you are reading – but it’s as Stephen King says ‘On Writing’ – that the first person you must write for is yourself.

And this IS who I write for.

If any of you read. Bonus :P.

Strawberry and I have lived with Jenny now for the past few years at our flat in Fulham.

Whilst Tommy and Jenny grew up together in my parents home – it’s been upon Jenny’s moving in with us that I’ve slowly begun to learn more about how to look after a ‘thing’.

From the food that we buy for her to the toys to keeping her entertained and stimulated, but also too how easy she is ultimate to be looked after.

And how much joy she brings into our home.

The smiles at her funny places we’ll find her sleeping or sitting, to coming into bed and deciding to lay right upon us, to laying right slap bang in the middle of the kitchen as Strawberry is cooking; and much much more.

It is all smiles, laughter, photos and feelings of contentment.

Especially as Jenny will purr in happiness and greet as us we come home, and fill the flat with her life force.

Cats are territorial, and so there’s a joy of sorts in knowing that the home we keep her in is her kingdom, her home, and it is us whome visit her as guests.


Just seeing Jenny career through the house this morning playing with Tommy made me laugh and provided the inspiration for this blog post.

I’ve not googled the statistics surrounding how healthy it is to have pets – but here’s a couple:

I think maybe it is because I am someone who (like my mum) is prone to feeling lonely quite easily – so selfishly having a cat has quelled that to some degree.

And as I grabbed another screenshot from this article:

Link to the article is here

You can see that there are lots of other benefits to having a cat when you live in a flat like Strawberry and I do.


So that’s it.

I’ll catch you (without my cat) on the next one :p