One in four seniors aged 65 and over have a mental health condition, according to the American Psychological Association. Conditions including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and dementia are the most common mental health concerns that this age group experience. However, research has found that by introducing a pet cat into your home, the clinical symptoms of these conditions will diminish and your mental health will flourish.
Choosing the Perfect Kitty
When choosing the perfect kitty to aid your mental health, you’ll need to carefully choose between a kitten and an adult cat. Kittens tend to require more attention and will need to be trained how to use a litter tray. Pet supplier Pawster (https://pawster.com/best-cat-litter/) advises that: “New cat owners are often surprised that one of the most difficult decisions they have to make concerns something as mundane as cat litter.” However, regardless of whether you opt for a kitten or an older cat, you’ll need to invest in the right cat litter for your new pet. For most seniors, an indoor adult cat tends to be the perfect companion as they are less demanding and will happily snooze for between 13 and 16 hours each day.
Caring for your New Feline Friend
In comparison to other pets, cats require a lot less care. They are typically happy with 20-30 minutes of play per day, a quick cuddle and a comfortable area to rest in. And, while this might not sound like it will positively contribute to your mental health, it’s all that’s needed to enhance your frame of mind as you age. A 2016 study conducted by the University of Manchester found that half of the participants stated that their pet helped them manage their mental illness and everyday life. It was concluded that this was because carrying out day to day activities for pets, such as changing litter trays and preparing food, distracts individuals from their symptoms.
Implementing a Routine
Cats like it when their owners follow a routine as it alleviates stress, according to Homeward Trails. This is what makes cats the ideal companion for seniors with a mental health condition as establishing patterns and routines are crucial for dealing with and recovering from your condition. The Mental Health Center advises that, “Our bodies tend to function better when eating, sleeping, and exercise patterns are set to a regular schedule. Our minds also rely on patterns and routine. Because our brains have so much to process, they depend on habits to regulate daily processes.” Therefore, by focusing on a feeding pattern, regular playtime and treat time, you’ll be boosting both yours and your cat’s mental health.
As a senior with a mental health illness, you can benefit by introducing a feline friend into your home. This is because having a cat shifts your focus from your symptoms to their needs and encourages positive routines, which have been proven to be advantageous for mental health.