There's a curious side effect that unfailingly occurs when we open our hearts to an animal in need - our hearts get bigger, too.
Examples of this abound, but a recent one has captivated folks across the internet. This week, Reddit user sympson2612 shared a touching set of photos showing one little boy's sweet nap time tradition inspired by his love of the family's adopted cat, named Tommy.
"It's been almost a year since we took in the neighborhood stray and my son still insists on tucking him in when he naps," writes sympson2612,"so he knows that he lives at our house and will come back."
The former stray certainly seems to appreciate being in such a loving home, though for the family, it's they who have truly won.Writes sympson2612:
"This past year has been so wonderful having him in our lives. He is the sweetest, funniest, most patient cat I have ever met. We are sold on 'adopting' stray cats from now on!"
Interestingly, there's more than meets the eye in these touching photos. By having Tommy in his life, the boy is better positioned to grow into an emotionally healthy, caring adult, according to psychologist Dr. Azadeh Aalai in Psychology Today.
"[A]ny pet owner can attest to the myriad of benefits that come with [pet] ownership-chief among them for young children [is] the facilitation in cultivating empathy towards others and enhancing responsibility in taking care of a living being other than oneself," Aalai wrote.
"In fact, less pre-occupation with oneself is higher among pet owners when compared to non-owners, suggesting that the responsibility of taking care of another may release us somewhat from our egocentric tendencies."
Thanks for the reminder, Tommy!