Sigmund Freud once said, “Time spent with cats is never wasted.” And it seems he was certainly on to something… Aside from being adorable companions, research has found that cats can do wonders for your mental health
Not all heroes wear capes, some come on four legs and have a liking for cream. Research conducted by Cats Protection and the Mental Health Foundation has found that 87% of people who owned a cat felt it had a positive impact on their wellbeing, while 76% said they could cope with everyday life much better thanks to the company of their feline friends.
With it being World Animal Day this week, we wanted to celebrate the benefits these wonderful animals can have on our mental health, by taking a look back at some particularly incredible moggies who were finalists at this year’s National Cat Awards, hosted by Cats Protection at The Savoy, London in August. These cute kitties in particular have made a huge difference to the lives of their owners, from helping them to cope with mental health conditions, to reducing stress and bringing a sense of comfort when it has been needed most.
Fish the cat had a hard start to life. After being washed away during a heavy storm, she was hand reared by her owners Charley Holmes and Joel Kirk.
Charley, who suffers with biopolar disorder, said: “It was a very stressful time for us both – I was struggling with my bipolar disorder while Joel was under a lot of strain completing his teacher training.”
And yet that all changed when Fish arrived. “All of a sudden, everything seemed to click into place when Fish arrived. We had a new focus and responsibility, and it took our minds away from the worry and stress. We thought she needed us – in fact, it turns out we needed her just as much.”
Layla is a black-and-white moggy with a lot of love to give. While battling an eating disorder, Layla’s owner, Cody Barrett, was recommend to get a pet by her therapist. Cody said, “After giving it serious thought, I found Layla and knew she was the one. I brought her home and almost overnight a fog lifted. She helps me make sense of things, motivates me and I’ve learnt a lot about myself through caring for her.”
Cody goes on to say, “Whereas before, I would barely leave my room, I now had a responsibility and sense of purpose. It wasn’t just having a sense of responsibility that helped. Layla is playful, funny and sociable – she is brilliant company and I can never feel alone now she is in my life.”
After being caught up in a high-speed motorway crash, Missy helped owners Craig and Rosie Jones recover from their physical and mental scares.
Speaking of the ways that Missy helped both of them, Craig said, “From the moment we got home, she never left our side and she brought us so much comfort during some very difficult times.
“We both suffer with chronic pain and need to lay down a lot. When we do, Missy is always there as a friendly, comforting presence. She’s given us something to focus on and helped us put the past behind us and look to the future.”
And it’s not just Craig and Rosie who’ve had a difficult time over the years. Craig explains,“[Missy]’s had a tough time too, having been treated for cancer twice. All three of us have our challenges, but we get through it together. We’re there for her, and she’s there for us.”
Nala, from Gloucester helped her owner, Chloe Vincent, on the road to recovery after a terrifying knife ordeal that drove Chloe to quit her job after suffering from anxiety attacks and PTSD. “There was a huge waiting list for counselling, and I could have easily lost all hope for the future.” Said Chloe. “But throughout it all, Nala was there for me. Her constant presence has given me a reason to carry on and she truly is my rock.”
It’s apparent from these stories that the statistics are right. Cats can bring comfort, company and a sense of purpose to people in their time of need. The bond between a pet and their owner is truly a thing of beauty, and something that has a wealth of wellbeing benefits for all involved. The purr-fect relationship indeed.
Hero image credit | Anna Gowthorpe