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Do Cats Help with Depression and Anxiety?

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Did you know that millions of Americans suffer from anxiety disorders and/or depression, or most oftentimes both? (1)

It’s highly likely that either yourself or someone you know, is currently experiencing either one of these. It’s serious. It’s an illness.  And there are thousands of medication brands out there on the market that can help or reduce anxiety/depression symptoms.  However, many of the people we know who suffer from these illnesses do not like the idea of having to take drugs in order to just get through their day.

So then I tell them this: get a cat.

And they say, “What, why would I get a cat – how could a cat help me if medication can’t?” and then I go on saying loads of jargon only a cat-lover would say.

do cats help with depression and anxiety

But all jokes aside, to answer the impending question which just so happens to also be the title for this post (do cats help with depression and anxiety)… YES, cats do in fact help with depression and anxiety. Thank you for asking!

In fact, not only do cats help (but they just happen to have extra super healing powers) but also other pets can help with those suffering from depression or anxiety.  These animals can be associated with “emotional support” animals (or dubbed ESA’s).

If you have anxiety, it’s possible in some cases to have a doctor prescribe your pet as an emotional support animal who is allowed to come with you where most animals are not allowed.

Watch this informational video about a college student with anxiety who lives with his ESA cockatoo in his on-campus dorm.

How do cats do help with anxiety and depression?

Cats make us feel better. But how? In what ways do they do this? Let’s find out!

Unconditional love ♥

The first reason for why cats can help you with your mild to moderate depression or anxiety is by giving and receiving unconditional love.

Whether you realize it or not, your fluffy kitty loves you dearly and you love kitty back. It’s a wonderful, uncomplicated love that you look forward to seeing every time you come home and that you miss very much when you’re away.

You don’t need someone to respond to you with human words, kitty love is the most purrfect thing to cure your pain.

Sense of responsibility

Owning a cat (or several..) gives the pet-owner a sense of responsibility to take care of something.

Feeling responsible for something (like the happiness/overall well-being of your cat) will give you purpose, which really really helps in times when those “existential-self” moments roll around to ruin your joyful mood.

Just knowing that Yoda is waiting for me when I come home makes me feel happy – as if his contentment relied on me and my ability to take care of him (which it basically does).  And that makes me feel happy because if I’m depressed about work, school, or anything else, I know that my cat counts on me to be there for him.

Breaking up the routine

One thing I love about having a cat is that I am never bored when I need to take breaks from work or school.  Yoda is always entertaining and taking care of him breaks up the routine of everyday life. There isn’t a day that is the same when my time is spent with him.

He also his own routine; one that keeps my sense of time on the right track.  Plus, I rarely ever need to set my alarm.  Yoda makes a point of waking me up on time so he doesn’t miss his breakfast.

do cats help with depression and anxiety - Fluffy Kitty


Cats also help in making you more active. Cats are not idle characters (unless they’re sleeping), rather, they love to run around and play.

Actively engaging in playtime with your cat can help relieve you of any anxious feelings or help avoid those major swings of depression from too much inactivity.  I personally walk Yoda on his leash!  You can train your cat to walk on a leash, too.  Read more about walking your cat on a leash in our article here.

Improved social life

Believe it or not, having a cat can help you with your social life.  When you have guests over, cats act as natural icebreakers – I can attest that this is very true!

At one point or another, Yoda always ends up being the main center for attention or entertainment.  People love to ask about him and we love to talk about him! It’s a win-win situation.

Physical contact

You probably already know that people feel better from physical contact with other humans.  The same principle also applies to cats, actually maybe even more so.

Studies show that taking care of pets can significantly improve our moods by triggering our “feel good” hormones.  Caressing, touching, petting, or hugging a loving animal can immediately make you feel less stressed and happier than you were before (2).

Your best friend

Depression makes you feel isolated and makes you want to step back away from family and friends.  Owning a cat will never let you slip into a deep, dark depression as your best friend will always be there with you.  Yoda has always helped me avoid that ‘dark place’ by always showing me companionship.

Better health, better you

Cats have magical superpowers.  They can actually heal broken bones from the Hertz frequency of their purrs, isn’t that so cool? Cats have so many health benefits that we actually devoted an entire article about the major health benefits of owning a cat! Go check it out!

So, do cats help with depression and anxiety??

I’m hoping you know that answer to this one 😉 Y-E-S! Cats do in fact help with depression and anxiety. Aren’t they amazing?

I hope you have been able to gain some insight into why and how cats help us humans with our over-stressed lives. I am sure I have only scratched the surface in these regards, but nonetheless, I think you get the overall picture of how cats do it.  They’re definitely much more than just a cute ball of fur, don’t ya agree?

To wrap this one up, I just want to say thank you very much for all of our followers.  You are growing and growing and growing and we can’t thank you enough!

We love our baby boy Yoda and just love sharing our love for him – with you all!  With high hopes that you benefit from our articles and that you have a fun, safe, and happy life with your own furry companion!


Tuesday 9th of February 2021

Hi, I have severe social anxiety and depression and I have been thinking about getting a cat. I asked my parents and made a presentation for them, but they said multiple no times. I have already expressed how a cat could help me. There is no animal shelter near my house. I can't go visit a neighbors cat because some people in my family are at high risk for COVID-19 and there are no cats outside because it is winter. Even if there wasn't a pandemic I would not be able to visit a neighbors cat because I would be paralyzed in fear of talking to them. I am 13 so moving out is not an option. I have been struggling with self harm and suicide for a little more than a year now. I have tried therapy and medications. All the medications had the opposite effect and ended horribly. I am in a very dark place right now and it doesn't help that some of my close friends have abandoned me. I don't know what to do. Any advice? Also I was looking at Yoda in the picture, is he by ant chance a chartreux?

The Fluffy Kitty

Wednesday 24th of March 2021

Hi Audrey, thank you for reaching out and you sound like such a sweet and mature young lady! I am not in a position to give you mental health advice, but I can tell you that I once sought out hypnotherapy and it really helped me. If you are harming yourself, please know that you are loved - by your family and from afar by strangers like me and that there are always rainbows after the rain. I would also recommend you to start journaling. Just write. Write everything that comes to your mind without question. It has worked wonders for me, especially when I was 12 and 13 years old and struggled with life at the time. Trust me, it gets better. You are always welcome to reach me (Bri) and Yoda on Instagram @fluffyyoda if you want to see more pictures of Yoda hehe. Please reach out to me by email, as well. Anytime. Yoda is a mix (adopted) but he definitely has some Chartreux or Russian Blue blood in him, don't you think? Sending love, xx

Paul McBain

Thursday 6th of August 2020

I suffer from anxiety and depression and medications never have helped me very much! Before I got my cat named Pi, I was attempting suicide at least twice a year! Then Pi literally wandered into my life. Just after I got him I was feeling suicidal, and for some reason he just seemed to sense how I was feeling, and jumped on the back of my chair and started to pat my head with his paw and then laid his head on my head. He has given me a reason to live, I worry that he won't get a good home if something happens to me! Since then we have bonded very much, I take him out for short walks twice a day and I give him lots of love and attention! He has more than repaid me 10 fold with lots of love and affection in his way!

The Fluffy Kitty

Friday 7th of August 2020

Hi Paul, thank you so much for sharing your story with us! It warms our hearts to read how Pi came into your life when you needed it most. Cats have a funny way of knowing how we feel - and I believe Pi is no exception! Sometimes we think we are the ones that rescue animals, but in many cases, it's they who rescue us. When you feel like you've come to a point of no return - squeeze your little boy tight and know that there always is. You are loved by many and are deserving of life. It's my belief your little ball of fur came to gently remind you of that! Do you have a support group, crisis center, faith community, teacher, or other trusted person you can seek help from when feeling suicidal? Sending love, xx Bri, Paul, and Yoda


Monday 12th of November 2018

This is wonderful. I'm in the process of research to convince my parent to let me get a cat. My anxiety and depression have been through the roof and medication doesn't work. Therapy is hardly an option. I had a cat, Mia was her name, and she used to help me through it but she passed. The only reason she was even around was that my mom had her before she met my dad and it was either her and her cats or no her at all. But my dad is very anti cats. Any advice?

Brittany, Paul, & Yoda =^^=

Monday 12th of November 2018

HI, thanks so much for your comment. :) We're so happy you could find some insight from our article. Is there a way to find a compromise? Have you communicated your feelings/needs about having an emotional support animal (like a cat) as a pet? If you feel more comfortable first speaking with your mom about it, then perhaps start with that. We are not experts by any means, but we are confident that open communication and love can lead to wonderful surprises. If ever it comes to a strict "no" with a new cat in the house, would you consider spending some of your free time volunteering at the local animal shelter? It can also be a very therapeutic way to engage with cats and help the community. We hope this has helped - we'll be thinking of you and sending kitty high-fives your way.

Animal Therapy | iFight Depression

Friday 27th of April 2018

Cats can help you with your mild to moderate depression or anxiety is by giving and receiving unconditional love. It’s a love that you look forward to seeing every time you come home and that you miss very much when you’re away. Owning a cat will never let you slip into a deep, dark depression as your best friend will always be there with you.. Love that!!


Wednesday 11th of April 2018

I just recently got a new cat, she’s the sweetest most amazing kitty! also my baby’s is having babies!! She’s pregnant and I can’t wait for the little kittens ❤️

Brittany, Paul, & Yoda =^^=

Thursday 12th of April 2018

Aww that is sweet news, Shariah. Happy that you have got yourself a fur-iendly new companion! xo