Patient Blogs | Depression
How Rescuing a Kitten Improved My Depression
photo of woman playing with cat

I have heard for many years that pets are a great positive coping skill for depression. Honestly, I hadn’t adopted my own yet because it seemed like a big commitment. I was worried it would be too much responsibility with my current schedule.

Well, the Universe had other plans for me.

On April 20, 2022, I was driving down the fast lane of the interstate when I saw a tiny animal barely off the side of the highway. I quickly scanned as I was driving and had a feeling this was a kitten. I pulled over and couldn’t even tell it was a kitten until I was right in front of it, that’s how small she was. She was touching the edge of the highway! I quickly scooped her up and brought her to my car. (I checked for other kittens and a momma cat). I took her to the vet, and she is healthy! She was 3 weeks old when I found her. I named her Lola.

As soon as I picked her up, I knew this was my cat now. It was a moment I’ll never forget. From then on, I have been a sense of safety for this little kitten.

The sense of comfort and love that everyone talks about your pet bringing you, I feel that now. I understand now how taking care of something other than yourself can give you a purpose. Knowing that Lola most likely wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for ME is such a cool feeling. Every time she cuddles with me, it feels like she’s thanking me for rescuing her. She is asleep on my lap as I write this.

It helps that she is the sweetest, most loving cat I’ve met. I think since she was abandoned so young, she is just so happy to be loved by me. She makes my heart happy every time I look at her.

To tell the truth, I had started to feel my depression creep back in the past few months before I found Lola. I had sad and stressful things going on in my life and when I don’t prioritize my mental health, I feel the effects. I was planning to go back to therapy and focus more on my positive coping skills. Well, then, a perfect positive coping skill landed in my world.

I used to feel lonely quite a bit. I struggle with anxiety, so when I retreat to my bedroom to decompress from my anxiety, I’m left feeling lonely. Lola has been an amazing companion these past 4 weeks. I am able to relax and calm my anxiety while feeling the love of an animal.

I know not everyone is in the position to adopt an animal. If you are able to and have been thinking about it, I hope this is your sign to get a pet. If you can’t get one, go to a shelter and volunteer! Just being around animals can help boost your mood. I know Lola has boosted mine.




Photo Credit: Witsawat Sananrum / EyeEm via Getty Images

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Katharine Hartleb

Katharine Hartleb

Diagnosed since 2014

Katharine Hartleb was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in 2014, at age 16. She has a passion for helping others and plans on becoming a mental health counselor. Hartleb lives in Charleston, SC, and is a recovery coach at a substance use disorder facility. She is also a young adult presenter for NAMI, sharing her personal story. Connect with her through her personal Instagram and her kat4kindness Instagram.

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