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Global Guide to Divorce
Jack Jack the Cat

Pets Help Make Divorce Easier for Children

Pets can play a big role in helping children get through their parents’ divorces. While parents do give unconditional love, a pet is a more neutral family member who listens to complaints and confidences. Children can pour out their problems to the cat or dog and not have to worry about adding an additional burden to their already stressed out parents.


Various studies have indicated that being around a pet has health benefits, such as reducing stress and lowering cortisol. There is ongoing research studying how pets boost the owner’s immune system. Divorce is a turbulent time for the whole family and helping kids to be less stressed is a plus. Pets give their undivided attention and are fully present in the moment with the little humans. They can sit in silence and not need to fill a void with conversation. I was with my sons, but rooting around records trying to find a specific financial statement or figuring out my average monthly expenditures to give our financial advisor during collaborative divorce. The cats fully focused on the boys, while my attention wavered.

A big, friendly orange cat got my youngest through our acrimonious divorce. He listened, and did not lecture. He purred instead of giving advice. A tuxedo feline listened to my older son. Cats and dogs do not criticise the other parent or burst into tears. Kids may require extra physical contact during divorce and pets are ready to give this type of support. Our cats cuddled the boys and stayed with them as they drifted off to dreamland every night.


Pets help foster a sense of responsibility. Kids are pushed around by adults and having to do pet care gets them grounded. Being responsible for someone else’s welfare and well-being gives meaning to their lives. Taking care of animals takes the focus off their own problems and puts it on to nurturing someone else. Being responsible for the cats was a welcome distraction from the chaotic atmosphere of our divorce. Divorce dramatically alters the kids’ schedules and the routine of pet care gives constancy to their lives. It makes life more predictable when their world is topsy-turvy. The kids may get up in the morning, feed the animals, walk the dog or throw around a cat’s toy mouse. Then there is a routine for after school with the pets. Kids feel more settled when they know what to expect and have some routines.

Animals play a part in helping humans feel more connected to others.  Please read more