The anxiety of Covid times and how cats can help

Until today, I had no sense of the anxiety that many people feel at the moment because of these difficult times. It is the uncertainty of the future which can cause anxiety in normally calm people and which exacerbates anxiety to dangerous levels in people who already suffer from this condition. Being retired, the coronavirus pandemic with consequential financial crises, has not touch me. I’ve been removed from it almost entirely. In fact during the first month of lockdown, during brilliant weather, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I walked in the local park, which is magnificent, with a friend of mine and it was like we were entering a parallel universe of calm with no cars, no noise and in which nature was better treated by humans. This appealed to me greatly.

But it isn’t just the pandemic which is causing anxiety. Donald Trump is an issue. His unpredictability is unhelpful and China is too aggressive in its desire to dominate the world. Russia too is untrustworthy. Trump + China + Russia + Covid-19 = anxiety for some people.

Cat loves woman and it is reciprocated. Photo: Pinterest.

Today, with what is described as the “second wave” of Covid-19, even the young people of the world who consider themselves immune from the virus are showing signs of anxiety because they are finally starting to obey the rules and regulations which are designed to limit the spread of this disease. The description “second wave” is misleading as all that happened is that we suppressed the spread during lockdown. The virus never went away and therefore never came back. It is there all time and will remain that way.

And recently I suddenly felt a little bit more vulnerable. Until now I had not felt like that although I am approaching 72-years-of-age which puts me firmly in the vulnerable persons bracket. The disease could kill me if I got it. It’s the totality and finality of death which is concerning. It just takes one unlucky moment for a person to transmit it and it could be the end of me.

This made me discuss the situation with my friend who I still happily meet regularly for walks in Richmond Park, which incidentally has been praised by Sir David Attenborough because he also lives very close to the park in Richmond. I wonder whether he lives in the home formerly occupied by brother Richard? Richard died some time ago, by the way. But in meeting my friend I’m exposing myself potentially to the virus because it depends upon how careful he is. I told him how careful I was in case he needed the reassurance, which he didn’t. He is highly responsible and therefore I don’t see a problem. However, I do go to shops to buy the newspaper and food where I wear a mask under the UK regulations. But not everybody wears a mask in shops and the number of infected people is climbing rapidly in the UK.

Cat loves man. Photo: Pinterest. In the public domain in my opinion.

I can now get to the point of the article which is that our domestic cat companions provide us with a great panacea for anxiety. I’m not anxious but I understand why many people are. The beauty of the domestic cat is that when they come to you and sit on your lap or interact with you, you slow down, your mind is distracted and you connect with nature. Connecting with nature is a healer because humans come from nature, which is something that people forget. We need to connect with nature, our roots. It is a known fact through many research studies that a 30 minute walk in a park where there are trees is greatly beneficial to people suffering from anxiety. The positive effect is the equivalent of taking a tranquilizing pill.

And the same benefits can be had in sitting quietly with your cat companion. It is an amazing relationship when you think about it because we are a very different species of animal. Despite the difference the human gets along very well with the domesticated feline. It’s a great success story but I must end on a bad note. The success story of the domestication of the cat is tainted and spoiled by poor human behaviour. Feral cats should not exist and there are probably more feral cats on the planet than domestic cats. A distinct mark of failure by the human in this relationship. There’s far too much abuse and sometimes it is legalised abuse such as declawing in North America. These are failures. But they shouldn’t deter us from recognising the great benefits that domestic cats bring us in terms of creating a home with a soul and a home with a calm atmosphere.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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