In many cases, depression in children stems from underlying anxiety issues. In fact, 1 out of 8 children in America will be affected by anxiety disorders to some degree.
Many studies have shown that cats (or dogs!) can reduce the symptoms of depression in children, making it easier for children and adults alike to overcome daily challenges. If you have the joy of sharing your home with a feline friend, you know they make great companions and unknowingly offer their relentless therapeutic care for us.
1. Unconditional friendship
Cats just love. They don’t ask for anything in return or judge us. For a child that can be struggling with anxiety due to complicated social situations in school with friends, coming home to a loving cat can be the best remedy.
If one of your childs depression symptoms or anxiety is excessive worrying, it can be difficult to turn off those thoughts. Playing with a playful kitten is a great way to distract ones mind, and is definitely a mood-booster!
3. Responsibility and routine
Anxiety often leaves us feeling out of control, so a sense of routine and responsbility that comes with caring for a cat can provide a child with a purpose. The daily tasks required for a cat are perfect for a child to handle, such as feeding twice a day, scooping the litter box, grooming, and just making sure they get love and attention! This new role your child has can help give them a little direction towards not feeling depressed or anxious.
4. Social comfort
If an anxious or depressed child is having trouble socializing with others, a cat is a great way to nudge them into more social situations. Often times if another child sees a pet, they are intrigued and excited. Since the child is already comfortable with their cat, they may feel more confident when playing together with their pet and a new friend.
5. Physical contact and touch
Physical touch is healing for everyone. Sometimes children with anxiety or depression require extra reassurance and hugs. As parents or caregivers, we can certainly provide this, but the touch and acceptance of a furry friend is extra-healing. This is why it’s important that your child interact with a cat who enjoys being held.