By Tatiana Garrett
I recently heard matchmaker Amy Laurent say that cats are less than ideal pets for single women. She claimed to have been speaking for men that are allergic to or simply do not like cats and went on to say that, “If you don’t already have a cat, unless it’s absolutely dire to get one, hold off.” The comment got under my skin—you do not have to be a professional matchmaker to know that you will not attract your counterpart by pretending to be someone that you are not.
Regardless of the species, companion animals can help their single parents get through the highs and lows of dating by providing unconditional love and support. Pets can even help their parents “weed out” negative romantic prospects. Having a pet can also help a person build traits that are necessary for all long-term relationships.
On behalf of the thousands of homeless cats in this country: If you love cats, adopt one (or two). Do not fear that your soul mate will not find you because s/he is allergic to cats. If you want to attract a person that will genuinely love you for the person that you are, well, you have to be yourself!
Whether you love cats, dogs, rabbits, or rats, adopt the pet that you love. As you go through life, you will educate others on why the pet that you love is a great companion. Some of these people will be your friends and some will not. That is a great lesson for dating and maturity in general—people can be in your life without being your soul mate. If a person would refrain from dating you or being your friend simply because of the pet that you have, that person is not worth your energy (and that’s okay). If you truly love companion animals, embrace opportunities to herald their benefits to the unaware. More pets will benefit from educating the unknowing as opposed to animal advocates only speaking to each other.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that pets can decrease your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and feelings of loneliness, while increasing your opportunities for exercise, outdoor activities, and socialization. These healthy traits can help a person cope with the stresses that may come with dating.
I grew up with pets and have only gone 6 months of my thirty-plus years without having a mammal in my home. During those 6 months, I put on weight and became depressed. Correlation is not causation so I recognize that other factors were at play, but for me, I am happiest when I have a sweet furry face to come home to every day.
Not only are pets generally supportive, but they can potentially help humans select a mate. We can all picture the adorable puppy attracting cuddles and igniting conversations. Beyond their magnetic appeal, pets can be weary of certain individuals and provide early warning signs of what may be an ill-fated match. Go slow while introducing pets to strangers, and be sure to have a gradually building plan to introduce your pet(s) to your mate’s pets(s).
Pay attention to why your pet may be afraid or weary of a person. Have zero tolerance for dating someone that is aggressive/abusive towards an animal because there is a researched and documented connection between animal cruelty and human-directed violence.
Having a pet can make people better at human-human relationships, because caring for a companion animal fosters empathy and compassion. Traits of responsible pet owners simply make for better neighbors, community members, and spouses. A good pet parent will never surrender their pet for being “dirty” and s/he would not consider moving to a building that doesn’t allow the furry family member. The same sense of priorities and compromise should cross into the human relationships that matter. Sharing your home with an animal can teach patience and unconditional love—two traits that should be foundational in any romantic relationship.
Did your pet help you find your soul mate or help you avoid a dating dilemma? Share your stories below.
Tatiana Garrett grew up with Borzoi, a rescued Standard Poodle, cats, hamsters, parrots, rabbits, guinea pigs, and an iguana… just to name a few pets. She began her professional career with animals in 1995 at Brookfield Zoo. She has studied wild dolphins in Australia and rescued wildlife in Florida, but people are truly at the heart of her work. If it walks, hops, or slithers, Tatiana cares about it. She currently oversees the Humane Education programs at The Anti-Cruelty Society and hosts “Chicago Tails” on Watch312.com.