In our house, we occasionally joke that the cats need to get jobs and start earning their kibble. But the truth of the matter is that they already earn their keep every day. They make us laugh, they ease our stress, and they provide unconditional affection.
Am I giving the cats too much credit? I don’t think so.
There’s a growing body of scientific research demonstrating the amazing emotional benefits of having companion animals in our lives. Dogs are working with prisoners, the elderly, the chronically ill, veterans and students—all people living with considerable stress—and studies indicate that those dogs make a difference in the lives they touch. Cats, too, are providing comfort to people with depression and anxiety disorders, helping them cope with their emotions.
Our cats have definitely made a contribution to our happiness. When my husband was recovering from major surgery, Squeak-a-doodle provided the best kind of physical therapy. Together, my husband and Squeaky would make laps around the house, stopping at the end of each circuit for a quick petting session. Iphy, our old girl, has lost her hearing; she spends her evenings moving from lap to lap and gazing up at our faces with a look of complete contentment. You can’t help but feel loved when she’s staring at you!
The real stress relief champion in our house is Todd. Todd was a stray for at least a year before he joined us. One day, he wandered up on our porch with a big wound on his neck. We got him fixed up at the vet and planned to find him a new home, but he walked into our house, peed all over the basket of cat toys, jumped on our bed, rolled onto his back, and fell asleep. Clearly, he was already home.
Todd teaches us the art of relaxation every day. He conks out on his back, belly bared to the world, front paws tucked beneath his chin. He loves to have his belly scratched, and will roll over for a scritching without any real regard for the position of his body (he’s fallen of the couch more than once). When he snuggles, it’s a full contact snuggle. He’ll inch his way up your body until he’s nose-to-nose with you. And he loves everyone who walks through the front door. Our cuddle ninja, our snuggle pirate, our nap hero . . . he’s a living testament to the joy of loving with abandon.
Our pets enrich our lives in so many ways. That’s one reason I had such a great time writing about Izzy McHale’s dorky pug-bulldog mix Packer and her regal Norwegian forest cat Jinx. Throughout Paws for Murder, this dynamic duo contribute comfort, clues, and welcome comic relief. Throw in Rena Hamilton’s kleptomaniacal ferret Val, and you’ve got yourself a menagerie of fun.
I hope you get a chance to cuddle up with Packer, Jinx, and Val, and I hope they provide you with a fraction of the joy our real furry friends have to offer!
While Annie Knox does not commit--or solve--murders in real life, her love of animals is 100% real. She's also passionately devoted to 80s music, Asian horror films, and reality TV. Annie, her husband, and their spoiled cats (Todd, Iphy, and Squeak-a-doodle) make their home in a small town in north Texas, just blocks from the town’s courthouse square.