Having a cat in college saved me on several occasions. My freshman year, I told my mom that if I had to stay in a dorm my second year, I was registering Jasmine as an emotional support animal in order to have her in my dorm room. We could both tell I wasn’t doing well without a feline friend. My grades were phenomenal, but my mental health was not.
Thankfully I was able to find an apartment, so we didn’t have to go through that process. Jasmine has been living with me for nearly four years now, and I can confidently say I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for her.
Even when Zach and I took in Catarina, knowing she was dying didn’t outweigh the good she brought to our lives. It was the same with Steve, too—despite struggles with Jasmine and Steve getting along, he did fantastic things for our mental health.
Obviously, cats aren’t for everyone. My older sister is allergic to cats (and doesn’t like them all that much to begin with); my best friend isn’t a fan of how sharp and liquid they are. If you’re like that, maybe getting a cat shouldn’t be on your list of things to do. Get a dog instead. Or a hamster. Or a lizard.
But if you’re a cat fiend like me, you know the wonders cats do for mental health. While I can be sarcastic about cats (especially Steve) and how they “help” me, I really do believe they’re fantastic creatures.
They help keep you on a schedule of waking up, eating, and going to sleep. If you do something with them every day as a habit, they’ll remember and try to keep that schedule going. They show their love in different ways, but they love so fully it’s hard to not learn how they show it.
Jasmine “beeps” and flops onto the ground, belly up, to initiate a good, long rub full of purrs because she isn’t much of a cuddle-bug but loves physical touch.
Steve gets on your lap and purrs himself to sleep because, once his energy is gone, he wants to recharge with a nice lap nap and some head rubs. Any other touches will usually result in a gentle nip to move your hand back to his head.
Catarina would lay next to you, back against your leg, and take a nap because, even though she didn’t like much physical affection, she was still there for you and enjoyed company with her humans.
Learning the way your cat shows love will absolutely make your life better, and learning the way your cat receives love will absolutely make their life better. And, really, who doesn’t want such a perfect circle of love and happiness?
How do your cats—or other pets—show love?