I’ve been struggling with depression for years. I had always heard that pets can help with depression, but I never had the chance to get a pet until now. It turned out to be true — pets can bring us happiness, comfort us when we’re feeling down, and be a source of motivation for us.
1. When I wake up in the morning, before I even have time to think my habitual morning thoughts — “Ugh, here we go again. Another day I have to deal with.” — my cat is already climbing onto my chest, purring, and licking my hand as I raise it to pet her.
2. I have to share my bed. A lot of times, my cat will settle down to sleep right in the center of it. Although this is inconvenient at times, I have noticed that it helps with my bouts of loneliness at night. How can I feel alone or abandoned when I have a sweet fur baby gently dozing right beside me?
3. When I’m depressed, I tend to isolate myself. I stay home, cancel my plans, and don’t interact with anyone. But being alone for long periods of time makes me more depressed. It becomes a cycle that’s hard to break. Now, however, I have constant company in the form of my cat. She makes me smile and laugh when I don’t particularly want to, and she’s a warm presence that’s always near. She helps me break out of the cycle, if only partially.
4. I have to be more vigilant of my surroundings. As all pet owners know, it’s important to be aware of anything that could pose a danger for your pet. During meals I watch to make sure no food has fallen on the floor. I’m always making sure that food is put away and dishes are done, to prevent her from eating anything she shouldn’t be. Constantly surveying my surroundings helps keep me grounded and prevents me from dissociating as much as I have in the past.
5. On days when I’m so depressed I can barely function, I still need to feed the cat and scoop her litter. This gets me out of bed and gets me moving. Even if I don’t manage to do much else on those days, completing those tasks makes me feel a little accomplished.
6. Similarly, on most days, I have a daily workout in the form of playing with her, whether I want to or not. On occasion, if I’m feeling really bad, I can delegate this to my sister. But most of the time my kitty will bring one of her toys to me and start meowing incessantly. My only option is to pick the toy up (it’s usually a pompom on a string) and run around, letting my cat chase it.
7. I often feel like my life lacks purpose. But now, one of the purposes of my life is clearly defined: I’m here to take care of my cat. The wellbeing of this small creature depends on me, and that makes me feel like there’s a point in getting up every day.
8. Whenever I’m feeling down I get to pet a soft little ball of fur.
9. Seeing my cat bring joy to my family is therapeutic. Since we’ve gotten our cat, my mom has been happier at home. She comes home from work and the first thing she does is call the cat’s name (Marshmallow) and pet her. My sister does the same thing. I know that my mom and sister are constantly stressed because of work and school, and it makes me happy that our cat can help relieve some of that stress. Not to mention, because having a cat improves everyone’s moods, it does wonders for the way we treat each other.
10. Life is about the little things. If you can’t get excited about them, it’s hard to push through and hold out for the bigger things. But being enthusiastic about the little things in my life has been difficult. Somehow, it’s much easier when it comes to my cat’s life. For example, I get excited about her trying new flavors of cat food or playing with a new toy. Oh, goodness. I’m turning into a cat lady.