Do Cats Help With Depression?

It’s no secret amongst cat owners that their furry companion is one of the best things to turn to when experiencing low moods. However, many owners tend to wonder if the comfort that their cat provides is simple something unique to them or is actually backed up by scientific studies. Our article aims to answer that question and help you understand the many mental and physical health benefits of owning a cat.

Below, we will be discussing some research studies that look into what cats can sense and their reactions to low or negative moods among their owners. We’ll also give insights into the benefits of cat ownership and the possibility of registering your pet as an emotional support animal in order to receive their continued comfort and assistance, no matter where you may go.

What Your Cat Can Sense

From time to time, you may think that your cat is reading your mind as they wander over to you and offer themselves up for some serious cuddle time during low moments or when you need them most. However, recent research studies have proven that this behavior from your cat isn’t actually a coincidence – cats can interpret the visual and auditory signals that their human owners give off and will change their behavior accordingly.

While some studies suggest our cats do this because their human’s depression or sad moods stress them out, and they want to elevate these moods, other experts suspect that our cats enjoy the attention we are prone to giving them during times of depression when we need support. As a result, they will associate attention or affection with these moods and seek out their owners when cues suggest that their owner is likely to pay them attention.

Either way, your cat can generally tell when you are not feeling yourself and will take steps to counteract this. This means that cat ownership can help with depression, as the presence of your cat during these times can help relieve your symptoms, provide a distraction, and give you support.

The Benefits of Cat Ownership

As we discussed above, cats tend to be fairly in sync with their humans’ emotions. Therefore, cat ownership can also have healthy effects on the body and improve your overall physical and mental health, something that also helps to relieve symptoms of depression.

Some of the most notable benefits of cat ownership include:

  • Reduced heart rate
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Lower stress levels
  • Healing purrs from your cat that help to calm and comfort
  • A stable routine as you care for your cat, which helps with overall mental health
  • Happy and calm chemicals are released in your brain as you spend time with or pet your cat

You can read more about the many health benefits that cats bring here. And in regards to depression, it is important to note that cats can provide a stable routine, a constant companion, and a distraction during moments of low moods. Not only can your cat provide comfort and snuggles when you need them most, but caring for them can inspire motivation in your daily routine, and playing with them can serve as a distraction from negative thoughts and low moods. All of these factors help to relieve symptoms of depression and when combined with proper therapeutic treatment as needed, can help improve your overall experience with this condition.

Your Cat as a Therapy Animal

While therapy dogs are commonly known, therapy cats are less so, leaving cat owners to wonder whether their cat can be regarded as a therapy animal. After all, it certainly feels like they are as they cuddle up to you in times of need or sit on your lap purring, calming your moods.

It is possible for cats to be considered therapy animals, but they are typically classified as emotional support animals (ESAs) rather than service animals. This is because service animals are trained to perform specific tasks and relieve certain medical or psychological conditions. On the other hand, it is unlikely your cat can be trained to bring you items or clear rooms for you, but they can provide comfort, companionship, and support through low moods, stress, depression, and anxiety.

How to Register Your Cat as an ESA

Woman petting sleeping cat on her lap

If you want to register your cat as an ESA and gain the benefits that this designation brings, such as access to living spaces that typically don’t allow pets or more convenient travel benefits for you and your cat, your best option is to register them as an emotional support animal. This registration ensures that your cat can stay with you whenever you need them in order to help calm your moods and reduce symptoms of depression.

However, it is important to note that emotional support animals don’t have the same public access benefits as service animals. You will only be able to live and travel with your ESA in spaces where cats aren’t typically allowed, and you will not be allowed to bring them into public areas such as restaurants and coffee shops if the business does not allow it.

Contact us at US Service Animals for more information on registering your cat as an ESA.

Where to Adopt a Cat for Help With Depression?

Adopting a cat to help with your depression and overall mental health can be a good choice for those who don’t already have a cat. You can find adoptable cats at local rescue organizations, animal shelters, or cat cafes. Make sure to take your time choosing your new companion and choose one that’s lifestyle suits yours, such as selecting an older cat with a developed personality that matches yours or a playful kitten if you want to get plenty of active time with your pet.

Adopting a cat through a breeder is possible, but you should be sure that you choose a reputable breeder that cares for their cats properly before paying any money. Also, keep in mind that adopting a cat through a breeder will be more expensive.

Important Notes for Adopting a Cat to Help With Depression

Depression is a mental health condition that can affect your moods and your ability to be active. While cats can help with depression and provide somewhat of a more stable routine, it is important to only adopt one if you believe you will be able to provide it with adequate care. If you feel you aren’t able to take care of your cat properly due to your condition, don’t hesitate or be embarrassed about reaching out for help from your support system.

You should also note that adopting a cat is not the only treatment you should be pursuing for a serious mental health condition. Combining a cat companion with proper mental health care is the best way to get all the benefits of your furry friend and treat your condition as needed.

Relieving Negative Moods With the Help of Your Cat

Cats are amazing pets, and many owners will attest to the fact that their cat can help comfort them, provide them with a stress-relieving cuddle, or act as a silent supportive companion when it is most needed. It has been scientifically proven that cats can improve our physical and mental well-being, so if you are suffering from depression or low moods, adopting a cat or spending more time with your current cats may be just the thing you need. Dedicate plenty of time to enjoying their company and embracing the relief of symptoms that cat ownership can bring.