Pawesome mediCATion – Can our feline friends be helpful with mental illnesses?

Photo by Anastasiya Starz on Unsplash
Photo by Anastasiya Starz on Unsplash

Entering the second lockdown isn’t good news for anyone, but for those already struggling to preserve their mental health, this time can be especially challenging. Alongside regular treatments it might be good to consider felinotherapy, which basically relies on… playing with cats.

Many studies have shown that people who own cats are less likely to suffer from heart attacks and have lower cholesterol. But our purring pets have proven especially helpful when treating mental diseases and one breed of cats is used for felinotherapy more often than the others.

Devon Rex, a quirky looking breed, with big eyes and bat-like ears, immediately brings a smile to one’s face. But it’s their character that makes them a perfect fit for felinotherapy.

“Devon Rex is a type of cat that wants to be around people” says Jolanta Glos, who has been breeding these cats for 15 years “it’s a specific kind of cat, slightly similar to dogs. It’s a type of animal that gives warmth and unconditional love.”

And what Devon Rex does not give, is allergies. Their coat doesn’t shed much which minimises the spread of allergens.

Asked about felinotherapy Ms Glos said: “One of my cats ended up in a house with 3 boys, where one of them was blind. At first they didn’t get along but now they’re inseparable. The boy is much more outgoing.”

She carried on to say “My friend’s daughter has been suffering from insomnia for years, and then, when they got a Devon Rex from my cat breeding, the troubles stopped after a while. Before that they’ve been going to psychologists to heel her from insomnia and it was the cat that did the trick.”

Video by Jolanta Glos

One Devon Rex owner also shared her experience with us “I’ve had depression for two years now” says Kornelia, 62 “and that cat is like a natural anti-depressant for me. Especially in the current situation, the pandemic, one feels worse when locked at home and Robby [the cat] is lovely and just makes me feel better.”

Ms Glos also has observed an increase in sales during the pandemic: “Great interest, after the first lockdown. After the cats were for sale in March, a week didn’t pass, and they all have found a home. I think people just felt a need for having an animal.”

Despite Devon Rex being a popular choice for felinotherapy, other cats can also help. Jolanta Glos confirms: “My friend who breeds the Siberians, told me that autistic children also open up after having contact with the cats. It takes a while, obviously, but the improvement is visible.”

Felinotherapy may not be a sole way for treating a mental illnesses but it has certainly had a positive effect on many. Taking care of a cat, gives their owners a purpose and makes them feel needed.

During the lockdown everyone has to face the incoming solitude, or at least less everyday interactions with other human beings, so maybe some contact with a lovely creature is what people need to overcome the blues.

And even if you don’t consider such a purrrchase, here are some photos and a short video of a Devon Rex shared by Kornelia to make you smile:

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Video by Kornelia P.

Words: Karolina Pracht I Subbing: Salimotu Shobowale 

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