Mental Health and healing with cats
In 2011, while driving my family home from a party, we were hit head on at 170km/h braking speed by a known hoon in our area. After 8 months in rehab, learning to walk again, learning to speak properly, working on my cognitive ability and brain function, I was at a complete loss. I was working thanks to a return to work program and the amazing support of the company I worked for, but I lost my identity, and felt confused and angry about what had happened, and why.
As a result of that car accident, I suffered PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I had never felt so disengaged from life, from family and from friends.
Today, I’m pretty open about my experience, in the hope it will help others. One of my saving graces during that time was in the form of a Facebook post around 4 years ago. My nephew had posted a picture of 7 little scraggly, underfed, ratty looking kittens. He was begging people to take them as they were about to be drowned by the owners of the farm where they were born.
This was one of the first sparks of loving emotion I had felt in years since the car accident. Something new, something that I didn’t have (and then lose) pre-accident, and something that hadn’t been on my journey of recovery (so far). It was the start of my recovery in remembering who I was.
So I took on those 7 kittens, and with the help of MNCR, I nursed them back to health, fattened them up and socialised the scraggly little ferals until they were ready for adoption.
I can’t say it was easy. But having the company of 7 funny little beings while recovering from surgeries, procedures, counselling sessions and constant pain made my life easier. It wasn’t the purpose that changed things for me. I had purpose. I had a marriage to maintain and 3 young children to guide and nurture. But the kittens gave me distraction. They gave me unconditional love. They allowed me to belly laugh again when I thought there would never be a time I could honestly laugh again without faking it through life. They allowed me to enjoy my life.
From a medical point of view, it’s now known that animals can boost serotonin and significantly improve mood. There has even been a study into the healing benefits of cats purrs; because their purrs fluctuate between 20-140 Hz, a frequency range which has been proven to be medically therapeutic to humans! How amazing is that!
Studies also show that cat owners are about 40% less likely to have a heart attack than those without cats.
Personally, being involved in an organisation that saves cats in Victoria is such a small effort compared to what my cats have done for me. It really doesn’t take much to help, and I always want to do more. Sparing $5 a week to donate, sharing posts on social media about what we do – it’s really not that much. But the more people who do this, the more it helps. Every little bit counts.
I’ve also managed to achieve a goal I’ve been working towards for a couple of years, thanks to the support of MNCR. I now run mindfulness meditation sessions in the Neko HQ Cat Lounge. It’s so funny watching the cats reactions as people are relaxing into meditation.
“Hey, I’m over here, why aren’t you paying attention to me?”
Other cats will just completely zonk out with us and enjoy the quiet stillness of meditation. If this is something you’re interested in, check out the events on our main Facebook page and sign up for Meowndfulness!
As a side note, I adopted one of the kittens I saved. She’s Miss August in our large 2018 calendar if you’d like to buy one and take a look. She’s incredibly attractive!
Article Credit : Karen Harvey