Those of you who know me or follow me on Twitter/Instagram will know that I have two cats; Anna and Elsa.
I have introduced you to my furbabies in the past, but just to jog your memory, Anna and Elsa are almost four years old, and they are sisters. I adopted them from a rescue centre when they were about three months old, and they’ve been with me ever since.
Having been with me for almost four years, the girls have seen me go through some severe mental health problems, and I love to tell people how much they have literally saved my life.
During extreme suicidal episodes, when everything else seemed bleak and pointless, I could hold onto my girls to keep me grounded. They need me. They love me. Even in my darkest times, I could rely on them.
The more I think about it, the more I realise just how good for my mental health the girls have been and continue to be. So I thought I’d write about some of the ways in which living with cats is beneficial for our mental health.
1. Cats are loving companions
There is a misconception that cats are very aloof and unloving; this is just not the case. Many cats love to cuddle, give you fuss (in their own special ways), and generally spend time with you. The Mental Health Foundation also highlights that living with a cat can help to combat loneliness; sharing your home and your life with them.
2. Cats are good for your physical health
According to Cats Protection, a cat’s purr can help to lower blood pressure, and owning a cat can reduce your risk of having a heart attack by relieving stress and anxiety (Medical News Today). The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also claim that exposure to pets as a child reduces our risk of developing allergies in later life. Having benefits for our physical health has a knock-on effect of bolstering our resilience and reducing our vulnerability to mental health issues.
3. Having the responsibility for a cat gives us purpose
When we’re struggling to find our purpose for living, having a cat is extremely beneficial – this living being depends on you, and you are important to them. They would miss you if you weren’t there. Sharing your life with a cat can make you feel valued.
4. They help us through painful times
When experience pain or loss, having a feline companion can be helpful. Sometimes it’s too difficult to talk to another person about our grief, but snuggling up with your cat, having a little cry, and telling them about your feelings; no judgement, no unhelpful/unsolicited advice, no risk of them telling someone else your business.
These are just some of the reasons that I believe cats are beneficial to mental health.
If you are in a position to adopt a cat, I would absolutely recommend it, but please remember #AdoptDontShop! There are so many wonderful cats currently sitting in shelters, waiting for their forever home and forever family.
Also a gentle reminder: rescue cats aren’t “damaged goods”. Many cats end up in shelters due to being mistreated/neglected by their human, and many because their loving human has passed away. They deserve a second chance at happiness, and if you can provide that, you will also reap the benefits.
Do you live with a cat? Tell me about them in the comments!