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Pandemic pets: How a cat eases a Queen’s student’s stress

Click to play video: 'Pandemic pets: Surge in pet adoptions to help mental health' Pandemic pets: Surge in pet adoptions to help mental health
Pet adoptions are on the rise, and though they've been helping locals' mental health during isolating periods, it's been putting a strain on veterinarians to tend to them – Feb 9, 2021

As we push past the one-year mark of the first COVID-19 case found in Canada, many people are turning to pets to help them get through the isolation that comes with the pandemic.

Dr. Ryan Llera, a local veterinarian, says that the trend has caught on in Kingston.

“A lot of people staying home have now taken the time to adopt or foster an animal,” Llera said.

Read more: How ‘pandemic pets’ are helping us cope with coronavirus stress

Marwa Hussein, a Queen’s student and local, is one of the many people who adopted a new pet this year.

She said always wanted a pet, but the decline in her mental health, plus the availability of a cat, pushed her to finally obtain one.

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“I get some pretty bad depressive episodes sometimes, and being cooped up indoors certainly does not help,” Hussein says.

She said being obligated to feed and clean her cat gives her a great reason to get up out of bed, which has been pulling her out of dark funks.

Mylo is only six months, which means he has lots of energy, so Hussein says the company during the darker moments of the pandemic is something she really needed to get through.

But, the surge in pet adoptions across Kingston throughout the pandemic is putting a strain on veterinarians, Llera explains.

“There have been times that I haven’t been able to get clients in for routine appointments now for three to four weeks. We always leave some day of emergency slots for our clients at Kingston Veterinarian Clinic, but I know from some colleges across town that their clinics had to temporarily stop accepting new clients,” Dr. Llera says.

Since there is a high demand for new patients, veterinarians across Kingston have been struggling to balance new, and regular clients.

Dr. Llera also says that there are some concerns about people giving away their new furry friends once COVID-19 restrictions lift, and they get busier again. He also worries about pets being left alone as their owners go back to work/school.

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Read more: ‘Exhausted, overburdened and overwhelmed’: pandemic pet boom leaving veterinarians in short supply

“I think the bigger impact will be on pets who have become reliant on having their owners at home all the time. This has a high potential for leading to separation anxiety and other behavioural problems,” Dr. Llera says.

Hussein and Mylo are tied at the hip now, and she says there’s no chance of her giving him away.

When asked what would the pandemic be like without Mylo, Hussein says “I have no idea, but I don’t really want to imagine. I’ve gotten through some tough spots with him.”

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