Moo-ve over emotional support hamsters, there's a new cuddle buddy in town.

Animal therapy is nothing new and has been gaining in popularity the last several years, and more so during the coronavirus pandemic. Most of the time, one imagines cute puppies, kittens, and even goats. But now, a new animal is jumping into the comfort game, cows. 

Cow-hugging started in the Netherlands and has been in use there for decades. The practice of “koe knuffelen," as it is said in Dutch, has started to take root in other places, including the United States. According to the BBC, cow-hugging can reduce stress because it boosts the level of oxytocin in humans, a hormone that is secreted by the posterior lobe of the brain. It is often called the “cuddle” or “love hormone” because it gets released when people bond socially, and when they cuddle.

Cows, as it turns out, are really good cuddle buddies, and according to a study from 2007 in Applied Animal Behavior Science, they also show signs of relaxation and pleasure when people hug and pet them. Cow-hugging usually starts with a tour of the farm, an introduction to the animals, and then a few hours of petting, bonding, and just chilling with the cows. 

It's not recommended to just start cozying up to a random cow, so we highly recommend finding a place that actually offers the experience. 

This video from the BBC gives an up-close look at the practice of cow-cuddling:

People have been feeling very lonely during the pandemic, and animal shelters have reported record numbers of adoptions and fostering. Goat yoga, hiking with llamas, bonding with cats, there are so many ways humans have reached to the animal world for companionship, and now we can add cuddling up with a cow to the list of options! Who would've thought??

How do you feel about this idea of getting cozy with a cow as an emotional support animal? Is this something you might try to relax? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.