Can owning a pet be beneficial to your health?

A Cat Named Pepe

I firmly believe the question of which is superior as a pet, cat or dog, is a badly posed question.

I owned a lovely cat named Pepe. He and I took long walks together every day. Unlike my dog, he needed no leash. He stayed firmly beside me every step of the way. Even a squirrel or rabbit hopping into view would not deter him from our walks.

On one occasion, when a neighbor’s German shepherd broke its chain and attacked my three-year old daughter, the cat came between the two drawing the dog’s attention to the cat so I had time to get my daughter inside. Once she was clear, the cat ran up a nearby tree.

When I adopted a Scottish terrier puppy, the cat, which was already over twenty years old, patiently took the pup in and showed him the ropes. Not an easy task, since the puppy’s first move was to stick his nose under the cat’s belly and toss it onto the couch. Still, when the puppy got off leash and headed for the road, Pepe once again moved in to save the day. He barred the dog’s path and took off in a game of hide and seek under bushes closer and closer to the house until he had the pup safely back inside.

When I settled down to write, Pepe acted as my muse, settling himself across my shoulders, purring gently in my ear. I could almost feel the words forming from those sweet purrs.

He brought me gifts of dead rats and other creatures. I treated them as the special things he meant them to be, thanking him profusely for thinking of me. Only when he left the scene, did I take those treasures, wrap them in plastic and bury them in my favorite flower bed. It was my Pepe treasure flowers.

Each day when I arrived home, the cat was always first in line to greet me with a rub against my leg. Never was he loud, abrasive, jumping, clawing or yowling for attention. He requested attention and never demanded.

After twenty-seven wonderful years of owning and being owned by Pepe, he came to me one evening insisting he would sit on my lap and nowhere else. When I picked up my laptop to write, he settled across the keyboard, commanding my full attention. Only then did I realize he was saying his final good-bye.

We spent the evening starring into each other’s eyes. I whispered my joy in having him as my muse, my pet, my special friend over the years. When tears fell from my eyes, his soft paw reached up to touch my cheek as though comforting me. I held his fragile body until he knew it was time to go. With a final

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