My cat is my mental health support animal…
and I don’t consider myself crazy because of this?
Firstly, I need to point out that a mental support animal is so much more than outrageous stories about people flying with snakes, ducks and hampsters. Whilst I wish only joy and comfort towards anyone who is struggling on this crazy journey we call life, but there is a limit, I’m not entirely sure that ducks should travel on planes. But hey, I’m not here to rain on another person’s sunshine…
Let me tell you a little bit about Lily, I honestly think that we ‘saved‘ her or at the very least, she saved me, it’s a minor detail, all that really matters is we found each other. Anyway, Lily is our beautiful Bengal girl, with a history that’ll always be something of a mystery to us. We don’t know her exact age, we don’t know how many previous homes she’s had and we don’t know if she’s ever had a litter of kittens.
The day I collected and rehomed her was one that will stay with me forever when I went to fuss her for the first time, she didn’t shy away. Despite meowing and sniffling all the way home (she hadn’t been fed for 24hours and had cat flu plus conjunctivitis) she settled into our home instantly. I clearly remember how climbing out of the cat carrier, strolling around the living room with a look of approval and responding with joy to all the fuss. I’d anticipated her being stressed, hiding and/or hissing at us, but she was more than content with her new home.
Over the year’s we’ve learned that she doesn’t like beef cat food, she’s not the biggest fan of small children and she’s wildly protective of our house/garden. Her hobbies include, but are not limited to: Sleeping in her many beds and quite literally in the spare bed, her cat opera training session often starts at 1 am, she’s particularly mindful of the fact that sometimes we have to take important calls, this is her sign to meow at the top of her voice. We are no longer allowed to sit on our round sofa unsupervised, plus sometimes I don’t even get to go to the toilet alone, oh, of course, play fighting with G’s belt is not considered a pointless exercise, but something massively enjoyable.
Lily – captured by Rebecca Walters (Rebecca Walters Photography)
The matter of fact is, that there’s just something about her, she makes me feel important and needed. I find comfort when I feel her snuggle beside me in bed, I like working from home whilst she sleeps on my desk. I enjoy our ‘conversations’, I love it when she presses her head into my chest or nudges my nose with hers, or the sound of the door creaking open and that distinctive ‘meow‘. She’s unusually clingy and gentle for a Bengal, a breed which isn’t exactly known for being straightforward, they require a lot of love, huge volumes of attention and training from an early age.
“Pets are so weird like it’s just this little individual that lives in your house and you can’t speak to each other. But you’re the best of friends”
Having a pet can really lift your spirits, it doesn’t have to the be the conventional ‘cat‘ or ‘dog’ but when an animal gives you what feels like unconditional love, the endorphins released are like nothing else. Pet’s can fill a void, they are a reason to get out of bed, a reason to smile and for me, a calming influence. When she visited the Cattery, our house felt empty and so quiet, we’d become so accustomed to sharing the sofa and our furry alarm clock, that even though we were only separate for a week, I missed her presence.
Bringing a pet into your home is not without its struggles, expenses, and unexpected situations – It’s impossible to judge the personality of an animal until some time has passed, not unlike humans, yet this isn’t an excuse not to consider the addition of a pet. Whilst I already have a ‘crazy cat lady’ reputation, I’m sure it’s possible to keep it well under the radar. As we are heading towards a certain time of year, I just need to remind you that a pet is for life, not just for Christmas and I can’t guarantee that a pet will solve any of your problems, think carefully and try to make the right choice.
Do you have a pet that brings you joy and support?