Happy National Cat Day! As an animal lover, I am a firm believer in the effectiveness of pet therapy. That isn’t to say that having a pet is a be-all, end-all cure for mental illness, however, it can make a difference.
In fact, it is widely accepted in the scientific community that close proximity to animals is good for mental health. Pets reduce stress, lower blood pressure and promote the production of endorphins.
I have two cats – one at my apartment here in the city and another back home with my family. They have both completely transformed my life. My cat back home, Arwen, came into my life in 2015 when I was really struggling with mental illness. It was perfect timing.
She wandered into the backyard one day, clearly starving as she screamed for attention. For a while, I brought her food and water outside. She’d come and go, often spending the night in our garden shed. However, it was getting colder outside and I knew she wouldn’t last long. I begged my family to let me bring her inside, and I mean, who could resist this face?
With one quick trip to the vet, Arwen was ours. She’d sleep with me every night and greet me every morning. Sometimes, she’d even try to follow me to school.
As you can imagine, it was devastating when I had to leave Arwen to move away for school. Say what you will, but I can honestly say that I miss her every day. However, this year, a friend of mine moved into our apartment and brought her cat, Dexter, with her. Things couldn’t have worked out better. Dexter very quickly earned a place in my heart with his playful energy.
Aside from being absolutely adorable, pets serve a larger purpose in my life. They have an undeniably positive effect on my mental health. Not only do they make you feel less alone, they also facilitate a sense of responsibility.
For example, I can’t stay in bed all day because I have to feed my cat. Also, Dexter gives all his love to the first person to wake up and feed him in the morning, so that motivates me to get up early and be productive (and steal all the cat cuddles from my roommates). It seems like a small thing, but it goes a long way.
So, what’s the takeaway here? Get a cat. Seriously. They’re the perfect animal for a university student. As solitary creatures, they require minimal care. Feed them and throw a mouse toy across the room every once in a while and you’re good to go, they’ll love you forever. The Toronto Cat Rescue has plenty of cats waiting to be adopted. Take a furry friend home with you today!