How my cat plays a vital role in my mental well being


In 2012, I was very poorly. My depression had evolved into a sneering, unrelenting monster, ready to tear me to shreds. I was done. I didn’t want to live anymore. I was spending most days alone, with nothing to focus my mind. My partner was at work during the day and could occasionally work from home, but it wasn’t enough. Suffering from hallucinations and suicidal thoughts I wanted it all to end. Here I blog about My Experiences of Mental Health Crises Care

It just so happened that my partner came home one day and told me about his colleague’s cat that had given birth to kittens. I knew in that instant that a kitten would give me something to focus on, that maybe could pull me out of this depression, and we went to see them. We decided to choose the kitten that first tentatively, shakily, walked towards us, and gave us a curious sniff and let out a tiny mew. She was still very young and we had to feed her milk from a pipette. We decided to call her Matilda, after my favourite children’s book.


I have to admit that she is not the friendliest cat to outsiders, as many of our friends and family would attest to! With pretty much anyone that isn’t my partner or I, she will hiss and growl and most probably take a swipe at them! I like to think she is only being territorial, and looking out for us and our home. She will let me pick her up, but only when she is in the right mood; otherwise she will struggle, twist and turn and contort her little body to try and free herself! This is where the nickname ‘MatildaFish’ came from, which has shortened to ‘TillyFish’ because of how she wriggles like a fish!


I’m not sure what it is about animals, but they tend to know when something isn’t right. Whenever I’m feeling ill Matilda will sit on me, not unusual for a cat you might think, but Matilda is not a lap cat, she prefers to sit alongside you. So, when she does sit on you, it’s on her terms alone. The picture below is an example of this, taken about three weeks ago. I was again travelling through a very difficult period of depression, and I was riddled with despair and anxiety. Having this purring contented lump lay on me calmed me for awhile, and helped me through a difficult evening. This is one of many instances where this little fluff ball has saved me from myself and given me that glimmer of hope I needed.


You can find more pictures of little TillyFish over on twitter where I exclaimed this a few weeks after we brought her home. Although I don’t actually believe this, I do believe that animals can play an important, therapeutic role when we are mentally ill.

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