Many parents hear this demand from their children. Instead of a cat it may be a dog, a hamster, sometimes a bird. Anyway, the meaning of the phrase is the same: he wants a pet to appear at home. At the same time it does not matter how many toys he has. Even if there are few and parents try to distract their child with some fashionable news of toy industry instead of a cat of a dog, the small man often remains indomitable.
Then adults start pressing to make a child give up his desire to get a pet. They usually mention potential danger that dogs and cats present for the child's health - flee, worms and "all that infection". Forces in such conflict are far from being equal, and children rarely are able to get their way.
It seems like nothing bad happened. The child will pout a bit and then forget it. But his health will be out of danger, and there will be no need to bother about keeping an animal at home. In fact, without even suspecting it, loving parents do harm a child's health with their refusal to get a cat or a dog. First of all it is the mental health that is in danger, since at a young age psychology is very vulnerable.
Let us try to see why children at a certain stage of development - some at seven, some at ten, some at twelve years of age - show need for contacts with pets.
Some think that it is just a whim of modern children surfeited with fun who want to get a "living toy" and after receiving it quickly lose interest in it. Yet, practice show that it is far from truth. Usually a cat or a dog that settled at home supplant even favorite toys of unspoiled children. And see how little children strive for homeless cats and dogs in the street despite of strictest prohibitions of their mothers and grandmothers! Therefore, they are moved not only by desire to have fun but my some stronger internal impulse.
Religious philosophers explained to me this phenomenon in a completely different way. After birth a child lives with his soul clean and sinless without noticing any sin in the world around him. When he grows a little and the world starts to open to him his soul rebels. It longs for contacts with creatures that do not know anger, envy, meanness and selfishness, for they are able to give the little person so necessary for him spiritual comfort and support. And then the child tells his parents: "I want a cat!" or "Buy a dog for me!"
A similar point of view was expressed by psychologists. James Serpell who supervised studies of animal ecology at the Cambridge University points out that those who interacts a lot with pets gets from them a sort of emotional support that often lacks even in a family, leave alone single people. And our children often become such "single people" because their parents are too busy with their own problems and have little time for the children. The scientist believes that this support may be viewed as real psychotherapy having a clear mechanism of impact.
"As paradoxical as it may seem, - writes Serpell, - but "dumbness" of cats and dogs is an advantage rather than a drawback. In the process of interaction it is important not only what a person hears but how he or she is listened to. Therefore the fact that animals listen and seemingly understand us but never ask questions or make judgements may be their most pleasant feature as companions".
This is even more true as far as children are concerned. Very often adults without even being aware of it hurt children and bring about stress with their angry rebukes, shouts, criticism - "How many times have I told you?..", "Again you!..", "Don't worry about this rubbish!" But our mentality is arranged in such a way that a person can not be preoccupied with negative emotions all the time, and a child instinctively looks for a way out for them, for example, through crying. At the same time it may be much more useful for him to interact with a pet. Stroking it, whether it is a cat or a dog, he receives psychological relief and support.
Presence of an animal at home itself creates an atmosphere of psychological comfort for a child because a pet brings about positive emotions in a child. Such emotions stimulate secretion of "hormones of pleasure" that, in their turn, create favorable conditions for work of the brain. An interesting experiment was done in America. 36 children aged 9 through 16 who had dogs had to read aloud a complicated text once with their dogs present and the second time without the pets. First time their blood pressure and heart rate were considerably lower. This means that their dogs are an anti-stress factor for these children.
Also presence of a cat or a dog at home may play an important role in psychological and behavioral correction in children with deviations from the norm. In families with the only child parents often complain about the child's high excitability, fretfulness or sometimes even temper tantrums. Normally doctors in such cases give a short advice: do not spoil the child.
In fact the reason is different. Even if a child is not spoiled he is nevertheless receives extra attention from all the family members. The child's words and deeds are always in the center of attention and therefore are thoroughly analyzed though adults do not even think about it. It does not matter whether they praise the child or, on the contrary, criticize him. Both are bad because such "fame trial" may prove to be unbearable for a child's mind and may cause nervous breakdowns.
When a cat or a dog appears, part of attention immediately is switched to it even if parents are not aware of it. It is like a pet will shield a child attracting excess attention of adults. And then positive effect of cat's or dog's presence will not be long to see. Besides, they will be wonderful anti-stress companions for a child.
But animals are able to give children not only psychotherapeutic help. At present a new branch of medicine is developing rapidly - energo-informational therapy. Effect here is gained by using electromagnetic waves of very high frequency and ultralow intensiveness that cause positive resonance in a human organism.
Sources of corrective radiation are special apparatus and... hands of bioenergotherapists otherwise called extrasences. But a cat or a dog sitting on a master's lap or near also radiate him or her with electromagnetic waves. Therefore it is possible that their frequencies may resonate with human ones and thus eliminate energetic disorders. At the VII International conference on human and animal interaction problems held in Geneva that gathered over 600 scientists and practicing physicians there were described numerous cases when constant interaction with animals and, as a result, their inevitable energetic impact healed people. Here is one example.
A French girl named Perle was a small child when doctors diagnosed her with an fatal disease - progressing muscular dystrophy because of which she could not even stand. Deprived of normal childhood, the girl suffered not only physically but morally as well. Though she was surrounded by loving parents, older brother and sister who did their best to make the girl's life better, she was reserved and deeply depressed. The doctors were worried that after all the child's mentality may be irreversibly damaged.
The girl's mother, M-me Nicole, decided to save her daughter whatever it might take. She addressed the National association for training dogs to help handicapped people. After training at special courses since she was the one who was to work with the dog M-me Nicole brought home her future four-footed helper Fistulik.
The child and the dog slept, ate, went for a walk, played and... worked together. Individual program made by physicians, vets, psychologists and teachers demanded from all the participants persistence, desire and, the most important, patience. Painstaking, day after day, work done by the girl Perle and the dog Fistulik under supervision of M-me Nicole began to bring first fruits. Doctor Duamel from Cannes clinical center who monitored the little patient in a few months wrote: "Since a dog appeared in home Perle made considerable progress in her status". Finally a day came when the girl first stood. The treatment is not yet over. There are all the reasons to hope that Perle's health will get much better.
...In conclusion let me give you another advice. If your child wants to have a cat or a dog take his request seriously. Consider every "pro" and "contra" and try not to deprive the little person of so necessary contacts with a living creature that no toys can replace.