Do Cats Help with Depression and Anxiety

Last updated: Oct 14, 2018 @ 9:22 pm

Did you know that millions of Americans suffer from anxiety disorders and/or depression, or most oftentimes both? (1)

It’s highly likely that either yourself or someone you know, is currently experiencing either one of these. It’s serious. It’s an illness.  And there are thousands of medication brands out there on the market that can help or reduce anxiety/depression symptoms.  However, many of the people we know who suffer from these illnesses do not like the idea of having to take drugs in order to just get through their day.

So then I tell them this: get a cat.

And they say, “What, why would I get a cat – how could a cat help me if medication can’t?” and then I go on saying loads of jargon only a cat-lover would say.

do cats help with depression and anxiety

But all jokes aside, to answer the impending question which just so happens to also be the title for this post (do cats help with depression and anxiety)… YES, cats do in fact help with depression and anxiety. Thank you for asking!

In fact, not only do cats help (but they just happen to have extra super healing powers) but also other pets can help with those suffering from depression or anxiety.  These animals can be associated with “emotional support” animals (or dubbed ESA’s).

If you have anxiety, it’s possible in some cases to have a doctor prescribe your pet as an emotional support animal who is allowed to come with you where most animals are not allowed.


Watch this informational video about a college student with anxiety who lives with his ESA cockatoo in his on-campus dorm.


How do cats do help with anxiety and depression?

Cats make us feel better. But how? In what ways do they do this? Let’s find out!

Unconditional love ♥

The first reason for why cats can help you with your mild to moderate depression or anxiety is by giving and receiving unconditional love.

Whether you realize it or not, your fluffy kitty loves you dearly and you love kitty back. It’s a wonderful, uncomplicated love that you look forward to seeing every time you come home and that you miss very much when you’re away.

You don’t need someone to respond to you with human words, kitty love is the most purrfect thing to cure your pain.

Sense of responsibility

Owning a cat (or several..) gives the pet-owner a sense of responsibility to take care of something.

Feeling responsible for something (like the happiness/overall well-being of your cat) will give you purpose, which really really helps in times when those “existential-self” moments roll around to ruin your joyful mood.

Just knowing that Yoda is waiting for me when I come home makes me feel happy – as if his contentment relied on me and my ability to take care of him (which it basically does).  And that makes me feel happy because if I’m depressed about work, school, or anything else, I know that my cat counts on me to be there for him.

Breaking up the routine

One thing I love about having a cat is that I am never bored when I need to take breaks from work or school.  Yoda is always entertaining and taking care of him breaks up the routine of everyday life. There isn’t a day that is the same when my time is spent with him.

He also his own routine; one that keeps my sense of time on the right track.  Plus, I rarely ever need to set my alarm.  Yoda makes a point of waking me up on time so he doesn’t miss his breakfast.

do cats help with depression and anxiety - Fluffy Kitty

Activity

Cats also help in making you more active. Cats are not idle characters (unless they’re sleeping), rather, they love to run around and play.

Actively engaging in playtime with your cat can help relieve you of any anxious feelings or help avoid those major swings of depression from too much inactivity.  I personally walk Yoda on his leash!  You can train your cat to walk on a leash, too.  Read more about walking your cat on a leash in our article here.

Improved social life

Believe it or not, having a cat can help you with your social life.  When you have guests over, cats act as natural icebreakers – I can attest that this is very true!

At one point or another, Yoda always ends up being the main center for attention or entertainment.  People love to ask about him and we love to talk about him! It’s a win-win situation.

Physical contact

You probably already know that people feel better from physical contact with other humans.  The same principle also applies to cats, actually maybe even more so.

Studies show that taking care of pets can significantly improve our moods by triggering our “feel good” hormones.  Caressing, touching, petting, or hugging a loving animal can immediately make you feel less stressed and happier than you were before (2).

Your best friend

Depression makes you feel isolated and makes you want to step back away from family and friends.  Owning a cat will never let you slip into a deep, dark depression as your best friend will always be there with you.  Yoda has always helped me avoid that ‘dark place’ by always showing me companionship.

Better health, better you

Cats have magical superpowers.  They can actually heal broken bones from the Hertz frequency of their purrs, isn’t that so cool? Cats have so many health benefits that we actually devoted an entire article about the major health benefits of owning a cat! Go check it out!

So, do cats help with depression and anxiety??

I’m hoping you know that answer to this one 😉 Y-E-S! Cats do in fact help with depression and anxiety. Aren’t they amazing?

I hope you have been able to gain some insight into why and how cats help us humans with our over-stressed lives. I am sure I have only scratched the surface in these regards, but nonetheless, I think you get the overall picture of how cats do it.  They’re definitely much more than just a cute ball of fur, don’t ya agree?

To wrap this one up, I just want to say thank you very much for all of our followers.  You are growing and growing and growing and we can’t thank you enough!  We love our baby boy Yoda and just love sharing our love for him – with you all!  With high hopes that you benefit from our articles and that you have a fun, safe, and happy life with your own furry companion!

9 Comments

  1. Animal Therapy | iFight Depression said:

    Cats can help you with your mild to moderate depression or anxiety is by giving and receiving unconditional love. It’s a love that you look forward to seeing every time you come home and that you miss very much when you’re away. Owning a cat will never let you slip into a deep, dark depression as your best friend will always be there with you.. Love that!!

    April 27, 2018
    Reply
  2. Shariah said:

    I just recently got a new cat, she’s the sweetest most amazing kitty! also my baby’s is having babies!! She’s pregnant and I can’t wait for the little kittens ❤️

    April 11, 2018
    Reply
  3. Charlette A. P. Kealoha said:

    I’m bipolar and I thought maybe a cat can help me for the landlord said no to dogs but yes to a cat. Google search it and found this site which is so well informed that I was so well EDUCATED not only for cats but for anxiety and depression, fell much better. Aloha from Honolulu Hawaii

    April 3, 2018
    Reply
    • Aloha Charlette, thanks so much for sharing! We are so happy that our pawticle could offer you some help. So exciting that you will have a new furry companion soon! Kitties are the best. Yoda brings us so much joy 🙂

      Best of luck to you and please come back and visit anytime <3

      April 4, 2018
      Reply
  4. Jasmine said:

    This is absolutely true, I know it because the neighbours used to have a cat (which was an outdoor one) and it always helped with my depression & anxiety. But now they’ve moved away and since the cats been gone i’ve been feeling so so much more helpless, numb & depressed and I don’t know how to help myself. I’ve been asking for a cat for around 6 years now, I told my parents i’d pay for everything for the cat and take super good care of it, but they still constantly say no (just because they don’t like them) and recently I’ve been getting in trouble because i’m asking so frequently when I know the answer is no. I really, really need a cat here with me and I honestly don’t know what to do anymore and I’m feeling the need to self harm. I’m 14, so moving out isn’t an option and i just feel really lost right now. Any advice on what I can do? Thank you ❣️

    November 27, 2017
    Reply
    • Jasmine,
      Thanks so much for reaching out to us and sharing your story. First off, I completely know how you feel! I was the same way growing up and still am actually – Yoda has helped me in tremendous ways. Sometimes it’s hard to get our parents on the same page with us, but don’t give up. Maybe opening up communication and sharing your feelings to your parents about how a cat could help you, would help. If it’s a genuine, calm conversation, I can imagine your parents might be more considering of this. This can be hard, but don’t lose sight of joy and happiness in your life. Self harm should never be an option, as this will cause you even more harm both short and long-term. And it’s never worth it. Remember, our parents love us and care for us – even when their repetitive “no’s” can feel otherwise. I’ve been there! When you’re feeling down, you can always reach out to a parent, a trusted friend, or even some couple who write about cats on the internet 😉 hehe

      What I would recommend for you is to seek out volunteer options with the animal shelter in/near your town. There are lots of kitties who need love and attention in these shelters, and it would be really beneficial for you in many ways I think. I used to do this when I was about your age. I remember walking in maybe feeling a little anxious, and coming out feeling like I contributed to something bigger than myself and feeling like I left the animal shelter with a more positive, loving atmosphere than when I arrived. Doing this would also put into actions your words – meaning that your love for cats and need for their soothing company will be shown through your dedication to go volunteer just to have this connection. Your parents will see how much it means to you, and maybe this could open up new possibilities.

      If you have friends with cats, you can maybe ask to go over and spend sometime with your friends and their feline company. Don’t be nervous to ask a neighbor, a new one, if they have an indoor or outdoor cat you could look out for in the neighborhood and maybe spend some cuddle time with. More than not, striking up a conversation with a neighbor or friend, or a complete stranger even, leads to new doors, new ways of thinking, new possibilities and opportunities, and much more!

      In any case, do let us know what you decide to do, whether talking to your parents, volunteering or other. You can reach us by email: contactfluffykitty@gmail.com anytime you would like to talk or just need some advice, yeah? 🙂 Stay strong girl! <3

      November 27, 2017
      Reply
  5. Marissa Katrin Maldonado said:

    Such a sweet article and so true a about the benefits of pets to help alleviate depression an anxiety symptoms. I have personally experienced the positive effects of pets in my life but I have also seen the behavior health field open up to pet friendly rehabs and also service animals which are shown to be life changing. I hope we can keep spreading awareness and opening up more options for people to experience to recovery and love received from pets.

    October 15, 2017
    Reply
    • Brittany, Paul, and Yoda =^^= said:

      Hi Marissa, thanks for your kind comment and for sharing your experience !

      October 17, 2017
      Reply

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