Self-Harm and a Pet's Compassion

October 7, 2014 Jennifer Aline Graham

Like I’ve said in previous blogs, pets and animals truly are therapeutic. Animals can show the most genuine compassion for their owners and even towards complete strangers. For some, pets may be the only ones in their life who listen to the struggles they’re going through and even though they don’t respond, they physically are able to show they care. The presence of a pet's compassion can decrease self-harm urges.

In fourth grade, I was blessed with a calico cat named Fudge. She had been the independent, somewhat shy cat out of the two my sister and I were given. However, she always slept beside me at night and made some sort of noise when someone walked into the room. During the years I struggled with self-harm and suicidal ideations, she was there to listen and for me to cry to.

I don’t think we really appreciate how lucky we are to have a pet until years have passed and you leave for college or move out of the house. It becomes difficult to see them as often and if they were close to your family, they tend to stay with them as you move forward with life. Unlike the dog I’ve had for the past two years, Fudge stayed with my family and I didn’t see her as much.

However, even though she wasn’t there as often, it doesn’t mean she cared any less.

Appreciate a Pet's Compassion Now

For those who have never had a pet, you may think all of this talk of “pets listening to you” is silly. However, for those who do understand, pets give you a kind of love that no other human being can hand you. Animals can truly help the intense behaviors that those with mental illness may struggle with. Just by spending time with your pet and being able to feel their warmth and compassion could be the few moments you need to push aside the urge to self-harm.

Appreciate the compassion surrounding you because it can come from the rarest of places, like, from a pet. A pet's compassion can decrease self-harm urges.

Many times when I was being pulled towards a sharp object and self-injury, my cat seemed to find her way into my bedroom or scratch at my door. Animals can sometimes feel your emotions and just by recognizing that, you may see their behaviors as a sign to stop the dangerous act you’re thinking about. Fudge’s presence made me rethink a lot of my unsafe, self-harm actions in the past. Just by talking to her and seeing her comfort me, it made me feel loved when I didn’t have an ounce of love for myself.

Even though I haven’t seen her nearly as much over the years due to college and moving away, I’ve still found time to spend a few quiet moments with her and show her I still care. I wish I could thank her for being by my side when I wanted to end my life or harm my body and for making me feel important when I felt as if no one else cared (even though there were many who did).

I will miss her just as much as I miss those who have impacted my life in positive ways who have passed on – such as my brother. We need to appreciate every moment we have with the ones who make us feel loved and those who show that love can sometimes be pets.

Think twice before you self-harm or make a rash, unsafe decision. If you hear a scratch on your door or see your pet walk into the room, realize that their presence may be there because they can feel your hurt. Push aside that hurt and take the time to absorb their love.

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APA Reference
Aline, J. (2014, October 7). Self-Harm and a Pet's Compassion, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, May 7 from

Author: Jennifer Aline Graham

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