How My Cats Helped Me Through My Depression/Anxiety And Being Alone

Hi, I’m Kylee Mitchell and this is my story. I live in Oamaru which is in North Otago Region, in Waitaki District in the South Island of New Zealand. It is in between Timaru and Dunedin. Oamaru is a Town of about 20,200 people. It’s a mix of both rural (as there are, lot of dairy farms/sheep etc.) and town. It’s about a 20-45 minute walk from where I live one way. My street is up quite high so I have views of the north town. Also, just down the road is a park we call Orana Park where there are swings and a lot of trees. Here it is:

How My Cats have Helped Me Through My Depression/Anxiety And Being Alone

Most of Oamaru in the town part still has a Victorian look as back in 1800s it was classed as a city with the gold rush etc. If you want to know anymore visit this website. I do live near a road, but I have a fenced section with a door out the front. There are some pics below of garden that the cats like to hang out in. So you can all see what it looks like 🙂

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What do I do? I don’t work due to mental health problems i.e. chronic Depression/anxiety/epilepsy/social anxiety. I find it hard to get out of the house sometimes. I have support to help me get out of the house. Once I am outside I’m usual fine. I usual go out swimming, walking and attending adult literacy. Enough about me now 🙂

How many cats do I have? I have 4 cats including a new kitty making 5.

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From left Top: Jasmin, Ozzie, Smokey, Bottom left Tiger, Rebel, Their ages are Smokey 7 yrs. old, Rebel 5, Tiger 4, Ozzie 2, new kitty Jasmin 2-3 months, still a baby

What type of cats are they? They are all moggie domestic cats. Four of them were rescues from sister and friends. Jasmin was the only one that I picked myself. After the passing of Cassy I felt I needed to move on. I knew a friend of mine had kitties so I put the word out there. Am very impressed with Jasmin. Cassy will always be remembered in my heart and we have a special memory in our lounge as well as Tammy.

What sort of home do I live in? The house is a rented house, which is currently on the market to sell for a landlord investment. So am hoping a nice cat friendly landlord will buy it. We been here since July early 2009. The cats loved it the first night we were here, esp. Cassy. The home is a house: 3 bedrooms, small Lounge, conservatory which gets really hot in summer and winter, it’s like a hot house. The kitchen is a rectangle shape – have a log burner (for winter as gets very cold here though probably not as cold as in different parts of the world) sometimes it does snow.

As well, we have a heat pump etc. Have usual bathroom, laundry, toilet plus a spare room that acts as a hobby room then outside as you can see in the pics above. We feel lucky that our Neighbors are very kind and we have shade and we get along pretty well. It’s good to live in a quiet area. There still noise as you would expect but I guess it’s bigger than what most of you have in other parts of the world ;). Have small amount of lawn and the rest is just garden which is low maintenance apart from the rose garden. Also, I have a swing set. The cats really enjoy going outside, esp in the summer months. Smokey loves staying away in the mini forest I like to call it next door he just sleeps in there on end.


What it was like when it snowed in 2011, it fell straight to the ground

Temp in winter at night is minus 2 to minus 5 in winter and 10 in day time. In summer anywhere to 12-35 at the most. So, its not too hot.

Is your cat indoor or outdoor? They mostly indoor and outdoor. We have a flap where they can play the in cat door and out cat door game. I haven’t worried so much about collars as things around here are pretty safe. Although I do attend to get one a safe one and a micro-chip for Jasmin. If only could do it for all of them but at 50 a piece would have to save a lot. In winter they mostly stay inside. I don’t worry too much where they sleep. I am happy for them to be inside in winter time. They don’t too much like wet days either. I’ve noticed tiger will complain when it’s been raining or cold. With Jasmin being young still I keep an eye on her and let her have little journeys outside. I’ve just noticed today that Ozzie (black cat) is enjoying playing with her its so exciting to see. He’s not as defensive as it was a week ago.

The dangers to the cats

The usual; getting run over and them hurting themselves. I’ve been pretty lucky, with my animals as they haven’t had any major probs apart from Cat fights and having abscess. Ozzie, was really the only one that I think was in an accident He was very lucky to be alive. Last year came home to him being in a lot of pain and hardly breathing took him to vet and he had to stay there for 3 days and nights. Was very stressing as he was only a year old. He had air in his lungs they think he fell off the boot of a car or that someone may have kicked him. Since them he’s been very careful and doesn’t stray from home much.

I feed them either Tinned or wet Pet food. i.e Whiskas or Chef cat singles or tinned Whiskas. They like most cat biscuits apart from cheap ones. But would prefer, above all else Whiskas meaty selections. I give them plenty of water, I guess like other cats they prefer water from basin and bath and or toilet ozzie esp likes to do this.

They sometimes get wild Rabbit. Our neighbour is a hunter and he often will go out as there’s a lot of country areas like on farms etc. He will bring some chicken or rabbit. I’ve tried once to cook it, ozzie has liked it but the rest just turn their nose at it. I just think they too domesticated now. They like their special foods

I go to the vet when needed. All cats have been vaccinated, apart from Jasmin which ill do soon. She’s in good health though. The vet bill is very high at the moment with cass treatment so will wait till its abit down. I get Revolution flea treatment and worms every 2-3 months.

My story how cats help me

I’ve felt the cats too to be of special value to me, when in year 2000 when I got very sick and had chronic depression. Didn’t realise at the time how bad I was, Tammy helped me a lot, I was alone and my health at the time was poor. I didn’t care how I looked, or who came over I felt she accepted me how I was and didn’t judge me she was a true friend.

She was a very clever cat, she loved to jump up on high door handles to get your attention and would open them if they were half open. I had a cheap fridge at the time that she had worked out how to open the fridge/freezer I had. She would get her paw and open it then look at me and meow with funny look in her eye. In the end had to put a big brick in front so she wouldn’t keep doing it.

She was always there for me, although she was an alpha female she was a lovely girl and I miss her lots. Cassy came along and she helped me in more ways than I can mention. She had a special feelings. She used to know whenever I was down or sad. She would jump up and just purr and smooch and get cuddly. Often when I was on the computer, if I was on there too much, she would physically get in the way and get cuddly like to say it’s time for me now!!

When I had been though a hard time, after she decided to go away I always felt that she knew I was going through a hard time, I felt that she was going though it too. It was so hard when she wouldn’t come back I really felt like she didn’t want to be a domestic cat and she turned semi-wild for a few weeks. I do think cats are helpful when you are alone as they help you with the loneliness.

I had been on my own for about 5 yrs before 2006, where it was just me and my girls. They were always faithful and loyal and could always count on them, when times get tough they were there. Even now with the ones I have, Rebel will always jump up onto the table, walk straight to me and head bump me and purr and smooch with a wee meow and rub his scent over me. I just know its like a greeting saying I love you, now can you feed me. So I think a cat or cats are very helpful if you’re alone or are a couple. They certainly help though the hard times and the good times. I’m sure you will all agree.


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How My Cats Helped Me Through My Depression/Anxiety And Being Alone — 36 Comments

  1. I agree 100% Kylee. You have a great park nearby – so nice where you live I think. I wish I had a setup like you. NZ must be a great place to live as well.

    • Yea marc i love living here which im sure you will agree is a nice quiet and peaceful place. Glad u agree with me 🙂

  2. heya i think its a great place to live. Its Quiet not too noisey. Cats are all happy or at least seem to be. I know its prob abit sad. but its open and honest how things are for me. 🙂 now u know what nzl scenery is like.

    • Hi Kylee, thank you for writing such an honest and open article. I believe a lot of people have similar problems to yours and I’m pleased that the domestic cat has helped you through them.

      Living alone is never easy and there are millions of people, particularly elderly people, who live alone and many of them care for a cat to help them. There are many stories of people living alone who are lonely. This is a natural consequence of living alone because, I believe, and I think you will find that it is based on science, that the human is a social animal and therefore needs to live with somebody or in close proximity and have contact with people. All of us need to have contact regularly with other people, I believe, in order for us to live normally and feel normal. Others will disagree with me.

      Fortunately, I never feel anxious partly because of my age and because nothing really bothers me any more which is not an untypical feeling for older person. I can see that anxiety can be a massive problem and it is also commonplace. In a modern society, I believe that anxiety is becoming more common because life is becoming more stressful.

      You live in a very quiet, beautiful place and I’m quite envious of you. However, perhaps it was or is too quiet sometimes because a bit of activity and interaction with people can help one live in the moment and banish dark thoughts to the back of the mind.

      Anyway, thank you again for writing this article which is quite unusual on the Internet.

      • I’m reading a book about the brain, Michael, in which the author states that the pre-frontal cortex in humans is about 30% of the brain, but in cats it takes up just 3% of their brain. Cats really do “live in the moment”– they don’t have a brain that can fret and worry and focus more on the past or the future than on what is happening right now. Our large pre-frontal cortex is an amazing thing, but sometimes it’s bad because we become unable to “live in the moment” and in reality, the present moment is all we have. We don’t have tomorrow or yesterday– only today. Our cats know that better than we do.

          • yea our winter is anywhere from april to august. its spring in september. That year was pretty bad here in 2011 as we had an artic blast it doesnt usually snow as bad as that. It still gets very cold here and have ski areas around the mountains. Out at my parents who live out in the country can see the snow on the mountains very clearly in winter.

        • It can be very hard to live in the moment. I am convinced that a lot of people who have a tendency to be depressed or anxious keep themselves highly occupied almost over occupied and too busy with the intention of keeping themselves thinking in the moment. I don’t do that and I do think of my past and I do think of my future but fortunately it does not make me anxious or anyway frightened. Sometimes, though, I do feel a bit sad when I think of these things. This website helps to keep me thinking about good things, about anything other than reflecting on the unresolvable things.

          • heya yea ive found since coming to this site, how its made my life better i feel not as alone. As i feel connected to people. I wrote this article when i was in depths of despair. I am abit better in life now thanks to alot of medication and a great american counsellor 🙂 . I also have abit more active life with going out walking and swimming. It does help having abit more things in life.

      • thanks for lovely comment. I wrote this article in relation to when i was severlly depresed. Im not as bad now although, i do suffer periods now and again.. Im very well medicated now, and as im on this pretty much long term. If it wasnt for my meds i would be a whole lot worse and wouldnt be able to cope as i do. i get out in the communtity and do alot more things. I reguarly walk/swim and been going to adult litercy. So im not totally not doing anything. Its great to be in such a supportive community where i feel valued and appreaciated. i didnt know how the article would go as im alwys nervous how it will be viewed. I think its important to be an open and honest as much as possible. Have felt scrapbooking has enabled me to be more creative and helps with depression/anxiety making me less stressed. i guess our lives are so stressed now than they have ever been. thanks for being such a wonderful site.

  3. What a lovely article and pictures Kylee, I enjoyed this very much. Ozzie, Smokey, Tiger, Rebel and Jasmin are all such beautiful cats.
    A lot of your home and surroundings are very like ours here in North East England, the trees and grass and a Park not far away and similar too in that your cats can have their freedom because it’s cat friendly there.
    Your cats sound vey happy and it’s good that Jasmin has settled so well and the other cats are accepting her now. I think it’s an honour to dear Cassy that you have given another cat a home, I know you will never forget her or Tammy, we keep them in our hearts don’t we!
    Cats are a great help when you have depression, not only to give you comfort but a reason to go on living too.
    You told me you couldn’t write, now you’ve proved you can and beautifully too, so I hope this is just the first of many articles about your cats and life in NZ and more pictures too x

  4. What a great article, Kylee. It’s beautiful where you live– such green grass! Ours is still brown here. I love your garden– it’s a lot like Monty’s. He never leaves it, even though a cat could easily scale the fences. It’s wonderful the cats get to be outside, but I know it can be worrying to let them out. Even Monty in his own little yard can encounter dangers. He tried to eat a bee one summer– that was terrifying. I’m glad your Ozzie recovered from his accident, whatever it was that happened to him. It was interesting to read about and see where you live. It’s half a world away from me and in a different hemisphere, yet it seems so similar to where I live with Monty and Jeff. Except that your seasons are reversed!

    • She does live in a beautiful place. New Zealand is beautiful. The landscape is one of the best in the world. The recent Lord of the Rings trilogy and now The Hobbit were filmed there and in those films the landscape is a major feature.

      Sometimes, though, the landscape is less important than what is inside your head. It’s rather strange but sometimes when I see a beautiful landscape it makes me sad because it is so beautiful and the activities of humankind is sometimes-and I stress sometimes-ugly. Seeing a beautiful landscape can remind me of the ugly aspects of human behaviour.

      • heya yes New Zealand has lots of beautiful places not just where i live but sometime i do some photos. Its very foresty and lovely peaceful areas. I prefer the south island as we have more scenery. Its nice up north but more busy areas like cities etc. I was born in christchurch. the reason for such beautiful is we usually have alot of rainfull in those areas. like in westport it rains 70 percent of the time.

      • Yes the two lord of the rings are made enitrely in the Southisland and the third in wellington and cant remember where the hobbit was made. 🙂

        • New Zealand has some of the most beautiful countryside in the world. As far as I know, the human population is quite low as well which gives this sense of space, which is so lacking in places like London, UK. People do need a little bit of serenity in their lives and I can see that one can get that in New Zealand, whereas it is shut out a lot of the time in places like London.

  5. I can sympathize with your health conditions of anxiety and depression, Kylee. I’ve always had problems with depression, on and off throughout my life, but didn’t always realize it. You don’t know that you are struggling in a way most people are not, because, after all, you’ve only ever lived within your own psyche. After my poisoning from Cipro, I’ve experienced true pathological anxiety for the first time. I used to think people with anxiety should just suck it up and go to work. Dealing with a real dysfunction of the sympathetic nervous system is entirely different than feeling a little stressed or anxious. I know that now that it has happened to me.

    Cats do help, but I think it’s good to have human contact too. Sometimes I just don’t want to be alone, and even Monty’s company is not enough. Can another human being really prevent it or do anything about it if my brain or body decides to suddenly do something weird and scary again? No, not even the medical community has many answers. But there is something about having another human there that has been helpful for me at times, so I’m glad that you live with someone.

    You might want to look into Idebenone (CoQ1) both for your friend’s son’s autism and for your anxiety. It has helped me immeasurably. I started taking it because it is a potent antioxidant, but it also helps you to make more serotonin from tryptophan. It just enhances what your body does naturally. On the bottle it says, “Supports positive brain chemistry.” It seems to do that, because my anxiety is just better on it. I thought at first it was just a placebo effect, but I don’t think it is. I think it is actually helping. I’ve been taking three 50 mg pills a day, one with each meal, and I have had no side effects from it. Idebenone has been used for treating autism also. It might be something you want to look into, do your own research and decide. It makes some people more anxious, but my guess is those people did not have low serotonin, so it would not be appropriate for them. I wouldn’t mix it with other anti anxiety or anti depressants if you already take those, or at least be very, very cautious with that. You don’t want to end up with too much serotonin, since that can be toxic.

    The other thing that has helped me is to unplug from the computer and cell phone. I still visit PoC now and then and FB for a very short time every day. But I’m not on there nearly as much as I used to be. I read that being on the computer too much can increase anxiety symptoms. It’s just too much stimulation. We weren’t created to be constantly entertained, constantly switched on and engaged. I think the best thing I’ve been doing is taking time just to sit outside with Monty (wrapped in a blanket– it’s still pretty cold here) and just enjoy the sights and sounds of nature in our back garden. Those times where you sit and do nothing but pet the cats or watch them play are vitally important. We’ve lost that understanding in modern culture– that simply being– not always doing– is the way humans were meant to exist. Take time to sit and do nothing but day dream and you will probably be called lazy. But when people never take time to do that they end up being very unwell, physically and mentally.

    After I lost a really good teaching job years ago because the new principal coming in was a big jerk, a pastor friend said to me, “Good. Now you can spend some time as a human being instead of a human doing.”

    • I think the best thing I’ve been doing is taking time just to sit outside with Monty (wrapped in a blanket– it’s still pretty cold here) and just enjoy the sights and sounds of nature in our back garden.

      I believe that this is a very good idea for anyone of us because I agree that we can be overstimulated and demands can be placed on us unreasonably in the modern world. Things happened too fast and too much is coming at us through mobile phones and computers and tablet computers.

      When you sit and listen to nature you are really going back to your roots and nourishing the spirit. You are slowing down and living a bit more like we lived in the past. Nowadays the past seems so naive and innocent and sometimes I hanker after it.

      • yea we have alot of bird life here too, my parents live out in the country and its lovely and quiet and much more as beautiful. Down the road in the park theres alot of birds like tuis and bell birds. Someitmes i go for a walk in the Oamaru gardens which is just as lovely. Nature is certainly lovly i love the peace and quietness of it all.

    • My epilepsy is very well controlled and its very mild compared to some others i tend to just get lost and disorientated but i havent had a seizure in such a long time. Mine usualy come on due to stress. SO i try and not get too stressed.

  6. A beautiful article, Kylee.
    I believe that so much of my sanity is dependent upon my cats that I would be a little afraid to be without them. I, sometimes, wonder who I would be without them.

    I’ve never been completely alone. I’ve always had cats. A few fulltime humans came and went after a few years; but animals are about the only beings that I can tolerate living with consistently. Human relationships are just too complicated for me. I don’t like feeling smothered and really have never been able to care for a male as much as they cared for me. Like cats, I live life on my terms as much as I can and resist being pressured to live up to anyone’s expectations.

    Your place is lovely. Just seeing the pictures makes me feel serene. I, especially, like the front area. The scenery is beautiful.
    I love all of your kittirs. My attention is really drawn to Rebel. He made me smile, because he certainly looked like a rebel to me.

    • I agree. My cat, Charlie, has helped me tremendously while living alone. That said, personally, I need a good woman to live with me but in a way which allows me some space and her some space too. I think under the right circumstances and if the relationship is managed well, it is possible to live in harmony with a person of the opposite sex! And, personally, I believe people need people although living with a good cat is a very close second.

        • Again,

          I don’t like the word “need”.
          Relationships with the opposite sex aside, I’ve found that if I put my strong desires aside, what is best for me just falls in my lap.
          I’ve, also, found that, any time I have been forced to make a change, it’s been for the better and to my benefit.

          • Also, I don’t know what a good woman really is.
            But, by my standards, an ideal partner is one that appreciates my interests, supports me in my efforts, and consoles me when I need it.
            Like cats that just appear, that’s the way I envision that person entering my life.
            I don’t know if there is any human alive that could be so unconditional. I know that cats are. So, that’s why I am where I’m at.

    • yea rebel is a peaceful loving cat, doesnt like being told off by over cats. In fact he is very much abit like a baby. He always comes in and meows and complains and if im up at the table head bumps me. I got him off a women who had alot of cats. over 22. The thing that drawned me to him was that as soon as i picked him up he was so laid back and relexed didnt get upset. Even when i put him in the cage he went willing. So to me its like he had chosen me before i chose him:)

  7. I really enjoyed reading all about you, your cats and your home Kylee, what a beautiful area you live in and I love the names of the places near where you live. You have beautiful cats and they’re obviously much loved and cared for. You should write more, this was a real pleasure to read.

    • yea its though hard times i become closer to cats. I never used to be such an understanding person i was mostly a thinker and non-feeling. As i got deeper depressed i found my emotions developed alot more. Ive learn’t alot of things in the life of hard knocks. I think also having cats in my early life has helped me alot. 🙂 thanks for nice comments.

      • Here we would say you’ve been to ‘the school of hard knocks’ and ‘the university of life’ Kylee and I think those of us who have are better and stronger people for doing that and I think it makes us more understanding and more compassionate too towards other people and animals.

  8. Thanks for sharing your story Kylee. I have enjoyed reading all the comments too. And, oh my New Zealand is just magical. So different than anywhere else in earth. You are fortunate to live there, with your wonderful brood of cats. Best wishes to you always. So nice to see your comments scattered around POC.

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