We Should All Be Allowed Animals In Our Lives – Whether We Rent Or Own Our Homes

Natasha Hinde's cat, Pebbles.

Tenants should have a “default right” to have pets, says the Labour Party, which has announced plans for tenants to be able to keep pets “unless there is evidence the animal is causing a nuisance”. With high house prices meaning many younger people are unable to buy their own home, it’s welcome news for those pining for a furry friend. 

It would also reduce the amount of animals taken into shelters each year. “Giving up a pet can be devastating, we welcome any steps the Government can take to encourage landlords to allow tenants to keep their pets,” says Cats Protection, which reported the majority of its branches having to take in cats due to owners having problems with their home’s pet policy.

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home would like to see many more local authorities and housing associations having more pet-friendly tenancy agreements,” Dee McIntosh, director of communications and external affairs at the charity, tells HuffPost UK. 

We spoke to readers and a psychologist about the benefits of having a pet in their life. Bookmark this and send it to your landlord.

Miriam's beloved pooches left to right: Ramsey, Sally and Blue.

According to clinical psychologist Linda Blair, touching a pet can give you a boost of oxytocin. “This is the bonding hormone that is sometimes called the ‘love hormone’,” she explains. “It makes you feel safe and close to who you are with. So by looking after the pet, you will not only benefit the animal but also receive an emotional benefit yourself.” 

Having a pet that encourages you to take more exercise, such as a dog, can also lead to physical and mental health benefits. “Walking a dog will lift your mood because you’ll receive a boost of endorphins,” Blair says. 

Readers are full of fondness for furry creatures. Miriam Payne, an author, tells us about her attachment to her rescue dogs: “My dogs are everything. They are my best friends, confidantes, shoulders to cry on, snuggle buddies, reason for getting out and about even in terrible weather and the inspiration for my books. I can’t imagine life without them,” she says.

Similarly photographers Lina and Tom Orsino-Allen say they would be lost without their three beloved cats, Mia, Lysander and Loki. “As childfree by choice, they’re our furry babies, our companions, our comforters, our laughter on dull days, and they’re also part of our brand. We book so many clients who love that we’re cat people and see them on social media,” they explain. 

Lina and Tom's cat Lysander. 

Pets certainly mean a lot to the HuffPost team. One colleague waited more than 10 years to adopt a pet while she was renting. Having bought a house last year, she’s now the proud owner of two kittens, Edie and Babooshka. Meanwhile another feline-loving reporter says coming home to her ever-affectionate cat instantly brightens her mood and makes London feel a ”less alienating place”. She’s so attached to Pebbles, she’s even set up his own Instagram.  

According to Blair, the experiences of Lina, Tom, Miriam and HuffPost staff aren’t unusual, with psychological studies showing the sheer act of caring for something or someone can brighten our mood. 

There was an interesting study in the seventies by someone who went to an old folks home and gave half of the residents a plant and told them to look after it, while the other half were given a plant but told the staff would care for it,” she says. “The group that looked after the plant were considered to be healthier and more cheerful by the end of the study. There’s evidence to show the act of looking after something – even something that doesn’t move – will make you happier.”

So having a pet in your home is good for your health – but if your landlord really won’t budge, it’s time to invest in some plants. We know which we’d prefer.