Should I Get A Cat To Help With My Depression Or Anxiety?

"Close-up of a cat, laying comfortably and warm on the legs of a woman."

(Picture Credit: Hans-Martens/Getty Images)

Feelings of depression and anxiety are common in the modern world. Beyond turning to professional therapy or even medicine, it’s often suggested that a person suffering from depression and anxiety should consider getting a pet to help alleviate feelings of fear and loneliness.

So should you get a cat to help with your anxiety or depression? The short answer is, well, maybe. But it should not be your sole reason for adopting, and you must make sure you can handle the burdens that come with pet parenting. Adopting a pet should also not replace therapy or professional treatment for your condition.

While studies have shown that cats and pets in general can help calm people down and convey a sense of tranquility, adopting a cat is a large responsibility that no one should take lightly.

If you do suffer from depression or anxiety, you should speak to a healthcare professional for treatment, and you can even ask them if they recommend adopting a pet. Here’s what you need to know when you’re considering whether to adopt a cat to help with your depression or anxiety.

How Adopting A Cat Can Help With Depression Or Anxiety

When people feel depressed or anxious, they often also feel alone. Living with a cat can offer a sense of constant companionship. Every time you come home, you’ll know that your cat is waiting there for you with a loving presence–even if all they’re really after is dinner.

Additionally, caring for a cat brings a sense of schedule to your life, and a regular routine often goes out the window when people feel anxious or depressed. Knowing that your cat relies on you for breakfast, to clean our their litter box, and to groom them can help bring regularity and purpose to days that might otherwise seem aimless.

Finally, petting or hanging out with a cat on the couch definitely imparts a sense of calmness and well-being. Studies have shown it can increase your levels of serotonin and dopamine. Both of these hormones can help alleviate depression.

Concerns When Getting A Cat To Help With Depression Or Anxiety

A real person 67 year old United States Navy Vietnam War military veteran is playing with and talking to his pet striped domestic tabby cat who is balanced on a bedroom window sill.

(Picture Credit: Willowpix/Getty Images)

It’s worth repeating that adopting a cat or any pet is a very large commitment in terms of time, money, and even emotions.

While cats have a deserved reputation for being self-sufficient creatures, you’ll still need to make sure you carry out daily tasks, including feedings, grooming your feline to ward off the chances of mats and hairballs developing, and keeping the litter box clean, plus the icky task of changing litter at least once a month.

There’s also a financial commitment that goes with cat adoption. Food, litter, and vet bills, even just for yearly wellness visits, can add up. If you suspect that financial issues are contributing to your depression or anxiety, sit down and crunch some numbers to see whether adopting a cat might inadvertently exacerbate the problem.

Cat parenting also relies on you staying actively involved with your cat. You might have to rearrange your own schedule to make sure that you can serve food at daily meal times. You’ll also need to keep your cat entertained with play sessions and bonding time; otherwise, boredom or even destructive behavior might set in.

A cat is a living, breathing, thinking being with their own needs and emotions. They do not exist simply to make you happy. If you don’t have emotions or energy to spare on another creature’s well-being, then take that into consideration.

You’ll need to provide for your cat in many ways. Understand that before you opt to adopt.

Should You Get A Cat To Help Your Depression Or Anxiety?

Ultimately, weighing up whether to adopt a cat to help depression or anxiety will have to be considered on an individual basis. You should rely on the advice of your healthcare professional. As you probably know, there is no easy, one-stop solution when treating depression or anxiety.

As an alternative, seriously consider fostering a cat or a kitten. There’s never a shortage of cats needing temporary homes. And this way, you’ll find out how you like living with a cat before committing to the idea.

Hey, you might even end up being a “foster fail” and keep the cat after all!

Have cats ever helped your depression or anxiety? Does your cat keep you calm and grounded? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!