PETS are just as good as people when it comes to providing the social support we need for psychological and physical well being. A Miami (Ohio) University department of psychology study showed that pet owners had more self-esteem and got more exercise than nonpet owners and were more conscientious and less fearful. The study also found that having a pet helped ward off negative feelings caused by social rejection. Who's the better friend - a cat or a dog? It doesn't matter; living with either one will make you happier and healthier.

* Miley the cat has a special job: He's mascot and chief calming agent at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center's Community Living Center. A beloved fixture at the CLC's hospice unit, he arrived by way of the San Francisco SPCA, which found him at a housing project. The 7-year-old tabby, who has been on the job for three years, welcomes new patients, naps with residents, greets visitors at the elevator and escorts them to rooms, and goes on rounds to check in on his "purrsonnel."