A blizzard of new research and anecdote shows companion animals have become even more especially important to our own species' sanity during these anguished times.
And so your columnist pricked up his ears when on one of last week's editions of ABC Radio National's Conversations philosopher John Gray began to talk, philosophically, about humans and about cats and our relationships with one another.
He is the author of a book Feline Philosophy - Cats and the Meaning of Life (Penguin). Cerebral and cluey, in conversation with the ABC's Richard Fidler he rose far above the soppiness that usually buries discussions of our pets in baby-talk blancmange.
This columnist's home is blessed with a black, three-legged cat (and a terracotta, four-legged dog) and like all cat lovers I know what hard-to-explain joy it gives to behold a cat being languid, perhaps basking, stretched-out, tummy-up in a patch of sunlight.
Always a joy to behold, our cats' magical languor is perhaps even more therapeutic for us, our cats' tense and skittish companions, right now, in these anguished times. The interviewed philosopher was very good at suggesting demystifying reasons why this may be so.
"Cats illuminate their owners' lives with a vision of effortless contentment," the sage mused.
"One of the big differences between cats and humans is that contentment or happiness is the default condition of cats. When they're not busy hunting or playing they're just resting in a state of natural contentment. They always revert to that when they're not under some kind of threat, whereas humans are possessed by a sort of diffused anxiety or suffering which they find hard to explain to themselves.
"Our natural condition as humans is a kind of unnatural anguish which we constantly try and escape from by activity by plunging ourselves into the world through business, politics, romantic love and any of those things which take us away from ourselves give us a respite from being ourselves.
"Meanwhile cats are happy being themselves and so when we see a cat lying in the sun or a cat settles in our lap [and we stay put because we don't want to disturb its repose] I think were responding to this vision of happiness.
"Cats are a natural embodiment of the happiness that we humans are always seeking. They've already got it. So if their relatively simple demands from life are met they revert to it straight away. They're happy by nature."
Listening, one felt one understood at last how our love of our dogs and cats is somehow sometimes tinged with unchristian envy of them. What have they done, the enviable little bastards, to deserve the serenity we can never know?
"They [cats] are as different from us as we are from them," Gray thinks.
"[Some of the allure they have for us is that] they give us a window to something outside the human world. They live according to their natures and that gives them a kind of built-in ethos.
"When you go back in philosophy to the ancient Greeks or to Taoism the Chinese tradition you find a very similar idea, which is an idea that ethics is about living according to your nature. All creatures in the world except humans do that. The paradox of being human is that we seem to be discontented with our nature. We seem to be deeply unhappy with being the humans that we are. That's again one of the deep lessons you learn from feline philosophy that cats are entirely happy with being what they are."
Yes, in his book and in his ABC conversation Gray imagines how a cat, cat-like in every other way but somehow intellectually equipped to be a philosopher if it wanted to, would decline to be one. It would wonder, Gray thinks, why it should bother to do something so very pointless?
An only child, I don't like giving up so much of my column's precious room to someone else but in this case methought it was timely, in these anguished times, to pay attention to someone's intelligent thoughts about human anguish.
It sounds as if Gray may be a disciple of the great French philosopher (and Nobel-winning biochemist) Jacques Monod.
An atheist, Monod expresses intellectually elegant ideas about what a tragedy it is for our species that we are somehow too intelligent, too unhappily intelligent for our own good.
We would have had everything going for us as a species, Monod thinks, if only with slightly simpler brains we had been equipped to enjoy the joy of life without our smarty-pants minds then pressing on to nag us about what the MEANING of life is. It's because our minds won't leave us alone in this, Monod says, that man, sensing "he is alone in the unfeeling immensity of the universe, out of which he has emerged only by chance", looks for meaning where there isn't any and feels driven to invent all those silly unfulfilling religions.
Whether Monod is right or not there are echoes of his big idea in what Gray has just told the ABC. Enviable cats give no thought to the immensity of the universe or to whether their emergence out of it is by chance or is part of some divine plan.
No wonder then, not caring about such things, they are enviably capable of such effortless contentment, of at least 16 hours a day of sleep untroubled by thoughts of pandemics, of dangerously unhinged presidents, of anything at all.
- Ian Warden is a regular columnist.