CATS may now be many a man’s or woman’s best friend, just like dogs. With a stroke or cuddle, or simply by sitting next to you, they take us away from the stresses of life.
A survey by the Cats Protection charity found 93.7 per cent of owners reckon their feline friends improve their mental health.
The petting activity that cat owners said helped them most was stroking their moggie (72 per cent) and playing with them (58 per cent).
The recent study is in aid of Cat Protection’s More Than Just a Cat campaign which aims to show the many ways owners’ lives can be improved by their pet.
No matter what age you are, the experience can help you learn to love yourself, boost your mood and give the feeling that you are needed.
Cats Protection spokeswoman Kate Bunting said: “Our #MoreThanJustACat research shows cats have moved closer to humans in terms of providing friendship and support, as well as becoming key members of the modern-day family.”
Rosie Harrison is one person who has benefitted immensely, from her relationship with her black puss Oberon. The two-year-old cutie, who she affectionately calls Obi, has helped Rosie, 23, in her ongoing battle with depression.
He has been a comfort since she settled into her new home in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, more than 250 miles away from her old one in Saffron Walden, Essex. And he’s given her comfort, through the tough times.
Having grown up with animals, Rosie longed for the friendship she once had with her family pets and knew a cat would be beneficial to her.
She says: “He reminded me of the good things in the world. He has improved my mental health because I don’t feel alone any more.
“I realised I wanted to see him grow into a fat old grumpy cat, and that was one of the easiest, closest reasons to keep working on my mental health.”
Spike is another who has worked wonders for his grateful owner. He has been an emotional support to Ian Turner, 63, in his battle with an incurable medical condition called idiopathic intracranial hypertension.
With similar symptoms to a brain tumour, this causes Ian excruciating headaches which are so bad they can leave him feeling suicidal.
Ian, from Llandudno, Conwy, said: “When moments come along when I think I can’t do this any more, Spike seems to know and is right there to comfort me.
“He will climb up on to my shoulder and will look into my eyes as if to tell me that he’s there and check I’m OK.”
Star of the week
DIGBY is set to become the country’s first guide horse. The two-year-old miniature stallion is on a three-year training plan in Yorkshire to complete the same duties as a guide dog.
He will assist Helena Hird, 51, from London, who lost her vision due to Stargardt disease.
Helena says: “He’s so affectionate and is becoming a wonderful, trustworthy guide who will change my life in so many ways.”
You can meet Digby at the National Pet Show in Birmingham on Nov 2-3.
SEAN McCORMACK, head vet at tailored food firm tails.com, is on a mission to help pets.
Paula Staites from Widnes, Cheshire, has a chubby hamster called Holly and said: “My children are always putting treats in her cage but it’s led to her putting on quite a bit of weight.
“The vet says we need to be really strict about her food intake. Is there anything we can do to help her get slim, which my children could be involved in so they learn about the importance of her health.”
Sean says: Hamsters are prone to gaining weight as in the wild they hibernate and stockpile food and fat reserves to last them over the winter.
Instead of giving hamster food that is a mix of seed and sugary biscuit, try a pelleted hamster food which will prevent Holly selectively feeding on the higher calorie, tastier elements.
Only provide healthy treats occasionally, such as carrots, peas, celery or green beans. Finally, exercise is important, so you can make a secure floor enclosure to let her roam when supervised, or fit a solid running wheel in her cage to burn off some calories.
MICHELLE THOMAS from Bristol believes her cockapoo Sally thinks she is a boy.
She said: “I’ve adopted a female dog who used to live with a male dog, and whenever she goes for a pee, she cocks her leg up. Should I be worried about her?”
Sean says: Despite widespread opinion, cocking a leg to wee isn’t exclusively a male dog behaviour. People can think there’s something wrong with male dogs who don’t cock their leg, or females that do.
It is nothing to worry about, just a personal quirk. On rare occasions it can indicate a hormonal change, but I wouldn’t be too worried if it’s normal for her.
Win a pet recipe book
PET Vet Sean McCormack has teamed up with food expert Annabel Karmel to design The Happy Dog Cookbook – which includes 24 fun recipes for you and the family to make for your pup.
We have 20 copies up for grabs. For a chance to win send an email marked #HappyDogCookbook to: email@example.com.
- You can find the T&Cs here.