How cats have helped my anxiety

Posted: 22nd June 2017 by Elizabeth

A few years ago we decided to get a cat. The furry might of the kitteh universe accordingly aligned in our favour, because soon we heard of kittens that needed homes. Just like that, Yayo, a spectacularly fluffy tuxedo cat, became our first fur baby.

Having him around was wonderful. I work from home, so the company was welcome. He was a purring companion, his green eyes always gazing at me intently. Naturally, he became the apple of my eye: he sat on my desk, went for walks with me around the farm we stayed on and followed me around the house. He was mine and I was his human.

During that time I finally saw a psychologist for the first time to help me cope with my anxiety. She was thrilled that I had a kitten, citing the many therapeutic benefits of keeping pets. She was right too; Yayo was a furry ball of serenity. When I felt overwhelmed or on edge, he calmly went “prrrrrrp” and offered a cuddle or two. He was my confidante; a happy constant that I came to adore and even rely on.

Yayo
Yayo

My world was shattered when Yayo was killed by dogs last year. That day was hell. The weeks that followed were hell. I retreated into the depressive shroud of grief, calling off social engagements and shrinking into myself. The feel of his limp body, still slightly warm. The anguish of digging a grave and not being able to see straight because of the tears. The memories – oh, all the memories! – of his perfect love.

It was one of the difficult times of my life. My husband saw that there was a feline-shaped void in our lives, so in the blur of our mourning, we found out about a lady whose cat had kittens.

Darcy
Darcy

It was on a cold August morning that Darcy came into my life. I remember laughing at the sight of all those kittens as they clambered around, mewed and squabbled over their kibbles. A small kitten climbed onto my husband and we knew she was going to be ours.

From that day, Darcy became my little shadow. She would bury her tiny body into my lap or scarf, or insist on sharing my chair. On days when it felt hard to start the day, she would burrow close to me in bed, desperately seeking warmth and snuggles. She had a vulnerability which I identified with; we both needed each other.

Perhaps this is why kittehs are so helpful in battling anxiety and depression: however low I am, I know that they need to be fed, played with and loved, and that sense of purpose is very helpful when I’m feeling lost. Their affection is unwavering and it grounds me. Maybe that’s why a dude called Albert Schweizer said that “there are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.”

Loki
Loki the Pokey

It’s almost been a year since Yayo died and Darcy is still always by my side – when I’m in the shower, on the loo, making a phone call, cooking, you name it. We have another furry wonder called Loki (although we call him Pokey most of the time) and together they are a crucial source of joy and comfort in my life.

Every day I feel an incredible sense of calm, reassurance and serenity from my cats. I might doubt myself at times, but they never doubt me. And I love them for that.

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