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Do Cats Help With Anxiety & Depression? Benefits & Considerations

Written by: Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Last Updated on May 26, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

young woman holding cute siberian cat with green eyes

Do Cats Help With Anxiety & Depression? Benefits & Considerations

If you happen to have a cat roommate, you appreciate the companionship that you share with them from day to day. However, you might be surprised to know that your cat could be acting like your own personal therapist when it comes to managing your mindset and mood.

People wonder: Do cats help with depression? Do cats help with anxiety? Research shows that pet owners are less depressed than non-pet owners and that pet ownership can offer various mental benefits as time goes on1. So, yes, it’s thought that cats can help with anxiety and depression!

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How a Cat Can Help Improve Mental Health

Plenty of Touch and Affection

A cat that has bonded with you will want plenty of love and affection each day, likely preferring to snuggle up on your lap rather than be alone on a cold bed. All the affection and physical touch that you experience with your cat can help calm your nerves and provide you with a sense of comfort and safety that helps reduce depression and anxiety levels.

Touch and affection are things that every human (and many animals!) needs to stay happy and healthy throughout their lives, so having the companionship of a cat can greatly improve mental health for those who live alone.

Blone Woman with Russian Blue Cat showing her affection
Image Credit: Nailia Schwarz,Shutterstock

The Soothing Nature of Purring

Not only does purring let us know when a cat is happy and content, but the sound and vibration of the act can also help soothe us and make us feel calmer. You might notice that when your cat purrs on your lap or even just somewhere near you, you feel more relaxed and at peace.

Simply knowing that their cats are happy is enough to make most owners happier themselves, and purring is typically a sign of happiness in a feline. Next time your cat purrs on or near you, spend a few seconds monitoring your mindset and focusing on matching your kitty’s good energy for the best results.

An Unconditional Friend

Another reason cats tend to provide depression and anxiety relief is that they serve as unconditional friends to their human companions. Once bonded with a human, a cat is loyal and understanding. Your cat doesn’t mind if you are in a bad mood in the morning, and they will be there to greet you when you get home from work or after a day of activity. They can get over being yelled at quickly and forget it ever happened once a snuggle takes place. Forgiveness and loyalty are two things that cat owners can count on from their furry companions and vice versa. Unconditional friendship with your feline can help establish a sense of security, which can help reduce stress levels as a result.

Young man in white t shirt holding a black Scottish fold cat
Image Credit: Vershinin89, Shutterstock

Less Loneliness

It can get lonely not just for those living alone but also for those with a family that is busy with their own lives and schedules. Having a cat around to hang out with can help ensure that you never feel lonely, no matter what your living circumstances happen to be. You will always have “someone” to talk to and share your thoughts and feelings with, even if your confidant will not provide you with verbal support. You will, however, be rewarded with a companion that never lets you feel like you are alone in the world. When you’re feeling less lonely, chances are that you will feel less anxious and/or depressed.

Plenty of Distractions

Another way that a cat can help relieve anxiety and/or depression is by acting as a distraction from all the troubles of everyday life. You don’t have time to think about work or school when you are busy chasing an electronic mouse around the house with your kitty. You can’t sit and stew as easily about things going wrong in life when you’re busy snuggling up with a purring cat while watching a comforting movie.

Cats are known for their wild shenanigans, so they don’t offer much downtime when they are around, so you can count on plenty of distractions to help ease any stress or anxiety that you’re experiencing.

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Final Thoughts

Many people wonder: How do cats help with anxiety? How do cats help with depression? They can do so in several ways, including providing relief from stress and anxiety. However, they are not a complete fix to always rely on. If you are experiencing depression, anxiety, or severe stress, you should talk to a mental healthcare provider to learn about all the things that can be done to alleviate your discomfort, in addition to spending plenty of time with your cat.

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Featured Image Credit: evrymmnt, Shutterstock

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