Do Your Cats Help You Cope with Holiday Stress?


I’m baffled as to why the holidays should be stressful for me, yet it seems that holiday stress threatens to creep up on me every year. We have no kids around, and few extended family nearby. We try to resist the commercial pressure to buy this and buy that. Even so, I’m not immune from the busyness that can arise from the holidays. In fact, I over-enthusiastically signed on for not one, but two holiday choirs in nearby communities! I love to sing. But I ended up dropping out of one group. It was just too much. Even the remaining group has almost been too much …

How can a holiday season demand such energy? Even people who are not the norm, like me, get sucked into the busyness and potential stress of the holidays. What have we created?

Some people thrive on the busyness, chaos, and sheer drive of the holidays. But I’m a person who needs lots of space in my life, or stress can quickly push me out of balance. Fortunately, my cats do a great deal to help me cope with potential holiday stress! Without even trying, they bring me down to earth. Here’s how:

1. They force me to relax

There’s nothing more relaxing for me than letting myself get away from any demands (work, life, holidays, other) and just BE with my cats. When they sit down next to me and I stroke them, it’s almost a form of meditation. I get very relaxed and I’m nowhere else at that moment, just there petting them and enjoying their unique personality. When I need to get away from the stress and get back to earth, I take time with my cats. If I don’t remember to take time with them, they have their own ways of letting me know. Sometimes I’m a little dense about this, but I eventually get the message and act on it!

2. They make me laugh

Cats are great humorists, and laughter ALWAYS lessens stress. I don’t have to stress about getting to a choir rehearsal if the roads are bad — I simply can choose not to worry and not go. The world is not going to end. Better yet, I’ll be home and I can play with the cats! And that is exactly what I did, in this true-life scenario. Most stuff that I concoct to worry about really is pretty insignificant — holiday-related or otherwise!

3. They help me enjoy music even if I don’t get to perform it

As I said, I did drop out of a community holiday choir, when I realized I was way overbooked for my own mental health. However, I’d gone to enough rehearsals that the music was really running through my brain. Guess what? I subconsciously inserted my cat’s name into one of the songs and had a great time singing it to myself! (Yes, I am weird.) I’m not sure the cat was too happy about this improvisation, but that’s another story.

Not only that, my cats enjoy bluegrass! We were just playing a Trampled by Turtles CD, and I was playing the spoons in rhythm to the music. Kieran, my musical cat, came running into the room and got very very excited. He does get enlivened when ANY kind of music is being played, whether we are playing instruments or listening to recordings. His enjoyment makes me enjoy the music even more.

4. They help me make music when have to perform it

Okay, I lied a little. Though I did drop out of a choir, I still am committed to playing piano for a singalong on Christmas eve. So, I’ve been practicing certain Christmas carols quite a bit. Kieran, as always, jumps on the piano keys to help out. But smart Zorro has started to copy him. Somehow, with Zorro, I think it’s probably more about attention, and not so much love of music, but no matter — now I have TWO piano playing cats. Lucky!

5. They help make cookies!

And yes, there is one other holiday thing I succumbed to. I made cookies last night. I have some great neighbors that I want to give cookie plates. But somehow, the cookie making was completely non-stressful and actually kind of fun. This is a biggie for a person who doesn’t love time in the kitchen. Maybe I had fun because my cats have helped me be so balanced this season. Or maybe it was super fun because I had the stereo on, playing Monroe Crossing (yet another bluegrass band).

Or maybe, my pretty Miss Jamie Bluebell was simply doing an excellent job supervising, and her presence made it all go well. At any rate, I am sure holidays would be a lot more stressful without my cats. I can’t imagine cat-less holidays!

How do your cats help you get through the holidays? Tell us in the comments!

More by Catherine Holm:

About Catherine Holm: Told that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of The Great Purr, the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of two short story collections. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.

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