National Pet Day is April 11. Approximately 66% of U.S. households have a pet. Over the years, the National Institute of Health has funded research studies that have shown that interacting with animals decreases levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lowers blood pressure. Other studies have found that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost mood. For most people, having a pet is about the unconditional love they feel from their furry companions. Our Blue Yonder associates shared why they love their pets. Here’s some of their responses and – of course! – adorable pet photos!

Marisa Alvarado: I thought I was a dog person, until our cat momma (not pictured) came into our lives. Now I’m a cat mom to one, and cat grandma to six babies! Fun fact, all my kitties are named after cheeses!

Amanda Groger: This is our new addition, Tilly. She is our 7-month-old Goldendoodle. I always say she Is 60% floof, 40% dog (sometimes puppy raptor/sock thief), and 100% bundle of love. Tilly has brought us so many laughs and a ton of unconditional love. My favorite times are her good mornings with her little cold nose on the side of the bed and our couch cuddles after our child goes to sleep. After a tough day, she is always there for hugs and her eyes always seem to understand. She teaches us so many things – to slow down and appreciate the small things, empathy, responsibility, and how sometimes you just need to put your nose in the air and sniff/breathe.

Kamil Harbaszewski: Fuji is the best alarm clock I ever had; she wakes me up at 7 a.m. every day with purrs and only malfunctions when season time change occurs. She is also the best manager, keeping an eye on me or sleeping on my desk throughout the whole workday. She is just a year old but thanks to her I have learned responsibility and that cats can play fetch.

Andrew Laird: This is Myc. He is difficult to photograph because he is always in motion. He is consistently enthusiastic and energetic – be it being picked up and hugged, “playing” with other cats, escaping into the bedroom, racing out from the bedroom, or, of course, being fed wet food. He is our “Sunshine.” Here he is checking on foster kittens in the incubator (you can see them through the glass) and “playing” with our book star Buddy (who, as a kitten, starred in “A Home for Buddy: A Foster Story”).

Jeanett Martinez: Manguito (my lovely orange cat) is more than a pet to me, he is my spiritual and energetic guardian. His purr is my stress relief and my dopamine. I love when he is with me while I meditate on my favorite tree.

Karina Matuszek: My dogs make me really happy. They are funny, cuddly, loving, and loyal. Interacting with them lets me switch off and just enjoy the moment🥰

Jen McQuiston: As a family with five cats, two dogs and, until quite recently, a wonderful horse, I can’t begin to say how much joy our pets bring to our lives every day. They are there when we wake up and go to sleep – with the cats often sitting on us to remind us it’s breakfast time and snuggling with us each night. During the day, the furry visitors to my office bring this remote worker a great chance to chuckle and feel a bit of love, and the many years with our sweet horse were truly therapeutic. I can’t imagine a day without fur in my life – and on my clothes.

Cheri Pulliam: My dog Birdie just turned two. She is a mixed breed that we got from a dog rescue. I love taking my scheduled walks with her, especially at lunchtime when the weather is nice. It helps me destress, take-in the sunshine, and enjoy nature around us. Plus, it is my form of daily exercise and neighborhood watch. She likes to use the cat tree to watch what’s going on outside while I work, if she is not sleeping or play fighting with our 13-year-old cat, Ace. Ace loves to sit in my work chair with me when I have my space heater going.

Robyn Sturman: This is Lily (close up!) and Colin (unpacking books from boxes). Since having my daughter 15 months ago, they’ve had a lot less attention than they were used to; however, when she goes to bed they will take advantage of the peace and quiet, curling up on my lap and just enjoying the pets. It reminds me to slow down, enjoy the quiet times, and show them the same unconditional love that they show me every day.

Stacy Vore: Ben is my stress reliever. He senses when I am having a rough day and will cuddle at my feet under my desk or hop in the bed to snuggle before I fall asleep. There is nothing more calming than his unconditional love.

Taylor Weissman: Meet Theodore, my 4-month-old Goldendoodle puppy! He brings so much joy, laughter, and adventure into each day. I can’t help but smile every time I look at him.