Guest post by Angie Bailey
With the recent passing of Robin Williams, the subject of mental health has topped the headlines. Anxiety and depression are real – I know firsthand because I’ve dealt with various levels of anxiety my entire life. Sure, meds can help, therapy is great, and alternative medicine has certainly made a difference in many of our lives, but do you know what’s been a huge dose of relief for me? My cats.
It’s no secret that people who share their lives with pets experience less stress and an overall healthier life – there are a ton of articles out there covering the subject. Individuals who spend time with animal friends are less likely to have heart attacks, generally have lower blood pressure and notice a positive difference in their mental health. I’m just talking about household pets here, but there are many certified therapy animals who are specially trained to help individuals who need a little more help, mentally, physically or emotionally.
People with depression benefit from the routine and responsibility required in caring for a pet. Dogs need walking, litter boxes need scooping and everyone needs food and interaction. Plus, animals are funny and generate more smiles in a single day than I can count. Even during times when a smile feels impossible to muster, a pet can step in and change all of that, if only for a few minutes. But a few minutes can mean a lot to someone who desperately needs that smile and momentary lift.
My cats never went through any sort of training, but they’re definitely therapy for me when I’m feeling anxious and stressed. Even if I’m having a panic attack, my cats don’t shy away – they act concerned and are quick to sit with me until I feel more stable. That purr is totally healing.
There’s something so peaceful about petting a cat, and they’re magically intuitive, knowing exactly when we need their comfort. Friends with dogs have told me they’ve experienced the same with their pooches. It’s the unconditional love animals give us that can get us through the worst of times. They don’t look judge us, and we don’t have to put on a false face around them. They love us exactly how we are, no matter what’s going on with our mental or physical health.
I sometimes feel sorry for those who don’t have the privilege of sharing their lives with pets. I can’t imagine a life without that peaceful, loving presence.
About the author: Angie Bailey is an award-winning writer, blogger, humorist, and professional member of the Cat Writers’ Association with a collective social media following of over half a million on Facebook alone. She’s the author of whiskerslist: the kitty classifieds and Catladyland, which won the Best Humor Blog in the 2013 BlogPaws Nose-to-Nose Pet Blogging & Social Media Awards and Funniest Pet Blog in the 2011 Petties Awards. She is a regular columnist for Catster.com and the creator of the popular blog, Texts from Mittens. She has three cats named Saffy, Cosmo and Phoebe.