The Effect of Pets on Mental and Chronic Illnesses
If you follow me on Instagram, I’m pretty sure you’ve already seen how much I love my cat. He’s actually not really my cat, it’s a long story, but he shares his time between two homes, and we both equally take care of him. In case you don’t know how much I love and care about him, here’s a brief little explanation.
We met Bubby (his real name is Bucca), a very long time ago. He’s 16 years old now, and we’ve probably seen him around the neighbourhood since he was 3 or 4. He lived on the street behind ours, but he’s an outdoor cat, so he was all over the place. He’s the most social cat I’ve ever seen. He would follow people down the street just meowing and wanting to be pet. That’s how I first met him. At first, people don’t know what to do. They kind of stop walking, look around to see if his owner is around, and then try to keep walking, but there he is. It’s the most adorable thing. I wish he still did it.
Anyways, long story short, but his owners got a new kitten after they thought Bub went missing, and Bub wanted nothing to do with that house anymore after seeing a new member. So my neighbours ended up adopting him fully, which meant he now lived 4 houses down from me. He knew us previously, so he would still show up at our door wanting food and attention. Of course, we gave it to him, how can you say no to that cute face? We eventually started letting him inside, and the rest is history.
Once I got sick in 2017 and was bedridden, he would come in every day and lay in bed with me. We would take long naps and just cuddle. In the midst of all of the insanity that was my life at the time, he was my calm and my de-stressor. We spent a lot of time together because I had stopped working, and I was always home. We spent summer outside either in the backyard together or on the porch. The boy loves to lounge in the sun. It’s his favourite thing to do. I would take him outside to pee, neighbours would see us and say hi, and everyone pretty much knows us as a pair now.
So that’s basically the backstory of why and how we’re so close. We created a bond during those months I had no one else to lean on (besides my mom). Bubby is my comfort, my security blanket, and my rock. I know to some people this sounds ridiculous because yes, he is a cat. But animals can be amazing therapy for those with depression, anxiety, and other illnesses.
Animal-Assisted Therapy is a very common thing nowadays. I mostly hear about it with dogs and horses, but you can request a therapy animal if you so please. It just so happens I got lucky with this guy. My mood instantly lifts when I see him, and when I’m spending time with him, I’m as happy as I can be. If you love animals, I can’t recommend getting one (if you can) enough. I’ll also add that having someone else to take care of gives you a sense of purpose and responsibility. I honestly believe that I wouldn’t have made it through my depression, anxiety, or my AS diagnosis without him.
If you have any experiences with emotional support or therapy animals, please share them! I think that animals are so soothing and create a safe environment for us when we aren’t feeling good. Oh, and they can always tell, too. I can’t say enough good things about animals. I love them so much. If it’s something you’ve been thinking about for a while, I’d say get one, you definitely won’t regret it. I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with my lil’ Bub.
Much love til’ next time!
Steff (and Bub)