You know, laughter is good for you.
I was just chortling at our black cat Kitty-Kitty (I know, I know, but it fits her perfectly), who’s mrrp-ing with longing at a tiny hummingbird at the feeder just outside the window. She can’t get the hummer and wouldn’t really know what to do with it if she did, but that plaintive little mrrp just slays me.
Our other cat, Emma, heard her too. Emma is a few cards short of a full deck, I’m afraid, the pretty but brainless product of a severely inbred colony of feral cats. Having no clue what Kitty was mrrp-ing about, Emma threw herself down in front of her buddy and rolled back and forth happily, showing off her ample, fluffy white tummy. Every time she does this I remember Teri Garr in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, happily singing “Rrrrollink in da hay, just rrrrollink in da hay!” as she rolls this way and that that in the back of a Transylvanian hay wagon. It just cracks me up.
If Kitty could sigh and roll her eyes at both of us, she would.
It’s just a few minutes after dawn as I write this. Until Kitty mrrp-ed and Emma rolled, I hadn’t done so much as crack a smile since getting out of bed. I woke with hands that ached. They were tender to the touch and sore enough to make me wince and cuss when I used them. The rest of me was stiff and creaky. My feet yelled when I put my weight down on them. Great, I thought.
Can’t I have just one day without this @!#*!?
Then Kitty mrrp-ed, I giggled beneath my breath, and the morning seemed a little less dark.
Animals have always done this for me. I grew up with dogs. My mom was partial to snub-nosed breeds, so we had boxers, Boston terriers, and an English bulldog over the years. All of them were comical, from their adorably fat, grunty puppyhoods and throughout their adult lives. We laughed at their daily antics and loved them completely.
Since then, both dogs and cats have shared my life, sometimes together and sometimes not. Today, Kitty and Emma go out of their way to make me laugh—frequently—every single day. Whether it’s mrrp-ing at hummingbirds, jumping headfirst into paper bags, schmoozing for treats, or chasing each other around the house, they provide a never-ending source of laughter, eliciting everything from a soft chortle to a hearty belly-laugh from me.
Frankly, I don’t know what I’d do without my furry friends.
Smiles and laughter cause the brain to release feel-good substances that work just like opioids on stress and pain, though far more subtly and without the dependence factor. Frankly, I don’t know what I’d do without my furry friends. My life would be so much more sober, so much more grim. Note that I said “be,” not “seem.” For me, these small creatures—my wee beasties—are vital. Without them, my mental health suffers. I suffer.
Having rheumatoid disease is tough. The symptoms—pain, fatigue, fevers, malaise—are real and have a huge impact on our daily lives. So do RD’s co-morbidities, like fibromyalgia, Sjogren’s syndrome, Reynaud’s disease, bursitis, tendinitis, enthesitis, and others. Pets—companion animals—help to distract us from the debilitating effects of these maladies. They make us laugh.
They offer their unconditional love.
Pets don’t care if you carp and moan about your twingy hands and achy shoulder. They don’t judge. They just give us joy in the only way they can: by being what they are and sharing their lives with us. I don’t know what I’d do without them.