How My Cats Help My Mental Health

How My Cats Help My Mental Health

I’ve always been teased that I’ll end up a little old lady with 28 cats. It wouldn’t shock me. It’s no secret that I love the furry felines. Even on the darkest of days, I cannot deny the contentment I feel from the innocent and unconditional love my they give me. My cats help my mental health.

Lily and Rosie came into my life at a time where I was in desperate need of a distraction. My mind was a constant war zone and everything in my personal and academic life seemed to be going tits up. I’d had a cat growing up called Trixie (full name FeFe Trixiebell – yeah, you read that right!) who was basically my childhood best friend. Most of the crap I had to deal with as a child was comforted by her and I felt like I’d lost a limb when she died.

A few years after in 2014, I had FINALLY persuaded my mum to let me have another cat in the house. Lily was a tiny tabby ball of fluff who I’d fallen in love with at first sight. She was so adorable I actually cried. After I’d brought her home, we decided to adopt her sister too, so she wouldn’t be lonely. Along came Rosie, a sleek black skinny little thing with the bluest eyes I’d ever seen.

Lily

I’ve always had a closer bond with Lily, as my mum does with Rosie. Lily can be sassy and independent, but most of the time she is the most affectionate cat I’ve ever met. Nothing makes me feel better more than when she curls up on my lap or follows me round the house. She likes to be cradled like a baby and she sleeps in the weirdest positions. She makes me laugh even when I don’t particularly want to and she makes me feel more calm. Although, as I write this the little cow is chewing one of my shoes. You’re not helping me make my point Lily!

At night, she will push herself under my duvet and nudge my arm until I lift it up so she can lie her little head on my chest. Any feeling of loneliness will evaporate, and the soft rhythm of her purr will lull me into a peaceful sleep. Yeah, I spoon with my cat. What of it?

Lily always seems to know when I’m feeling anxious or depressed. I don’t know how, but she just does. She will flop down beside me and put her paw on my arm. Warm, soft and peaceful. If she sees me cry, she’ll lick my face or pat the tears with her paw. I can talk to her about what’s going on inside my head without a fear of rejection of judgement. There is no sense of burden; I don’t have to worry about weighing her down with my problems because to be honest, she doesn’t give a shit. She simply sits and listens, and sometimes that’s all I need.

The science of a purr

You don’t just have to take my word for it – science is on my side too. Studies show the presence of a pet can increase the hormone Oxytocin, also known as the ‘cuddle chemical’ due to feelings of love and affection and reduces the stress hormone cortisol. They can also heighten dopamine and serotonin levels – two key chemicals that at low levels can cause low mood and anxiety.

A cats purr to me is one of the most relaxing sounds. Even more relaxing than a massage, a scented candle or Morgan Freeman’s voice; and there’s a scientific reason behind it. Scientists have discovered that the sound frequency of a cats purr has a hertz rate that is equal to the gamma waves, which are known as the meditation waves. This means you can therapeutically benefit from these vibrations. It’s been proven the sound can help with lowering stress and anxiety, reducing blood pressure and it can heal and strengthen bone and muscle. Cat owners are even 40% less likely to suffer from a heart attack. Mad right?

When we think of pets, a dog is usually the most obvious choice as a therapeutic animal. Their loyalty and reliance have secured the label of ‘a man’s best friend’ for a good reason. We often think of cats as unpredictable and independent. However, a study carried out by the UK Cats Protection agency surveyed 600 participants; half of which suffered with a mental health problem. 87% of cat owners found their felines to have a positive effect of their well-being. 76% reported their cats made stressful and anxiety fuelling scenarios easier to manage.

My cats help my mental health

Two years later, I couldn’t bear to imagine being without my furry babies. Their cuddles, presence and hilarious antics have definitely made a positive impact on my life. Pets are an integral part of any family and their existence is forever taken for granted. Funny cat videos dominate the online world and more and more of us are welcoming these four-legged companions into our homes and our hearts.

Do you have a pet that helps you?

Lily and Rosie as kittens

Lily

My cats help my mental health

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19 Comments

  1. 20/06/2017 / 18:56

    My boyfriend just moved into his first apartment completely by himself and he adopted two kittens from the same litter that way he always has someone to come home to. It’s so much fun to just sit and watch them play. Even when he and I are feeling a little crabby they normally do something extra cute or funny and make us smile! We’re a crazy cat couple!

  2. 31/05/2017 / 06:12

    Your cats looks so beautiful and cute! I have been begging my mum for a long time now to get me a cat however she still hasn’t given in. So I guess I have to wait till I move out.

  3. 21/05/2017 / 12:36

    I wrote a very similar post a few weeks ago about how my cat saved my life. I’m so glad to see I’m not the only one who gets so much comfort and joy from cats!
    One of my boys was really sick over the weekend and spent a couple of nights at the vets, I honestly felt like a piece of me was missing. I couldn’t sleep properly and felt even more anxious without him around. He’s back home now and hasn’t left my side since x

  4. 19/05/2017 / 17:11

    Your cats are GORJUSS! They remind me of the brothers we adopted. One was a fur ball the other sleek. I now have Blackie a black lab/staffy. He is my baby boy!

  5. 13/05/2017 / 22:03

    My cats absolutely changed my life. Like you, I was in a terrible way when my cats came into my life. They are a true blessing and I couldn’t imagine life without them.
    And cats make such beautiful noises. Purrs, snores, meows… Adorable!

  6. 08/05/2017 / 09:08

    Awww your cats are so cute!
    My world has definitely been better since we got ourselves a cat. He is a complete idiot, and I love him to bits.

  7. 08/05/2017 / 01:03

    How true… our Squeaky and Buddy are far more than just pets. Thank you for this article…

  8. 07/05/2017 / 16:33

    Yes! I have always had a cat, ever since I was five and wrote my parents a note asking for a ‘Citty’. I honestly don’t know what I’d have done without Mango or Obama or Tuna and now Wombat. xoxoxo

  9. 07/05/2017 / 14:30

    My cat and dog are hugely important to me. But my cat was my ‘first born’ and I feel I have a closer connection to him. Regardless, I think our relationships with animals have the power to heal and help us feel better 🙂

  10. 07/05/2017 / 14:23

    When our daughter went away to college and was having a hard time with the transition she adopted a cat. It made a huge difference for her. I will always have a soft spot for cats, even my 15 year old jerk cat. Hahaha!

  11. 07/05/2017 / 04:21

    My cats and dogs are a HUGE part of how I work through my mental health. On the days I struggle most puppy and kitty cuddles always help me to work towards being in a better head space!

    Britt | http://alternativelyspeaking.ca/

  12. Aww, these pictures are so cute! I used to have two cats myself (had to give them away because… sigh… life) and they were there to keep me company when I lived on my own for the first time. It was nice to come home to two loving little fluffbutts – even if they did like to destroy entire rolls of toilet paper, lol.

    When I moved in my with roommates, they had two cats too and they helped me immensely during an awful time, especially last year. Whenever I was crying or laying down somewhere in the apartment unable to do anything, they were always there to snuggle up to me and watch over me.

    It’s always so touching to see the unconditional love that pets give to us. Allowing us to be wholly ourselves, regardless of how messy and ugly we can get, it a great gift. I’m glad you have these two cuties in your life to make your journey with mental health a little easier. Thanks for this post and sharing these adorable pictures. 🙂

  13. 06/05/2017 / 17:22

    My cat and dog just know how to cheer me up. Lovely post!

  14. 06/05/2017 / 16:52

    I’ve been debating for awhile now to get a cat. Growing up we always had dogs so they hold a dear place in my heart but I currently live in a high rise that only allows cats. I’m so use to having pets around that it feels weird without them. Your cats look so happy, thanks for sharring!

    Britt Mont
    http://www.othersideof25.com

  15. Lulu Blue Ⓥ (@LuluDigitale)
    06/05/2017 / 15:48

    I wanted to mention the scientific info but you beat me to it, so I won’t have to say anything that agree, because I had read about that purr and relief to human health. It’s actually not just for mental, but also physical.

    Cats certainly have a huge impact on people, with their antics as you say. Some neighbors at the end of my mum’s street had let their cat out and she eventually found her way into my mum’s, where I still lived at the time. We kinda all adopted one another. I had named her Minuet, after a character in Star Trek TNG. My mum simply called her “Moot” short for Mammoth, in french, because of her general heavy way of walking. Minuet had helped me to some extent, but also triggered me on many others.

    Out of fear for renewing the same experiences, when my wife wanted a furbaby, I had opted to adopt a dog, and then a second one after the first had passed away, but ended up with the same triggers (emeto), although the regularity of walking a dog and meeting other dog-walkers in the area had helped to open discussions with people, forcing me out of my comfort zone in social phobia and avoidance.

    Through the past few years, we have also had hamsters, which are easier for me in regards to emeto triggers and are easier to care for – easier in the sense that they don’t require walking 4 times a day or carrying during snowstorms. That sort of thing.

    I’d never thought much about their effect on my mental health, apart for the fact of taking care of another living being.

    I had, however, felt the same way as you with FeFe, when our first hamster, Selene, had passed away. It was a horrible experience that I dreaded and had depressed me for several years and it’s only thanks to the joy of life and playfulness or our first dog, Ola, that my wife insisted upon adopting, that I managed to crawl out of the pit of depression.
    Later, I had experienced similar griefs as each of our furbabies would leave us, so, I totally understand how you felt, and it took me many years to even be able to look at their photos. Actually, the first time I managed to do so was recently, when friends were going through a lot and had asked everyone to share their pet pics to raise their spirits, and in trying to help my friends, I finally could break several years of this cycle and looked again.

    Lilly & Rosie are really adorable and I love your sense of humour, as usual (Morgan Freeman…). I love your text and candor, and these pics! The kissy one is just so cute, it melts my heart. Thank you for sharing!

    Right now, we have a cute & funny hamster, called Toshiro, which means smart in Japanese. He’s quirky and funny to watch when he zaps about his home and runs the wheel with such concentration… all the whilst wanting to be everywhere and checking on his food.

  16. M
    06/05/2017 / 15:37

    Lovely pics :).

  17. 06/05/2017 / 15:13

    Cat love!

  18. 06/05/2017 / 14:25

    Pets are the best, especially kitties 🙂

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