Before we get into this post I just wanted to state that this post was meant for yesterday however none of my work saved that day and I was forced to re-write the whole thing. I was very emotional while re-writing this and it may come across in my post but I don’t want my overemotional self to distract for todays goals, which is raising awareness for our pets mental health. They suffer just as much as we do, if not more so.
So today is still part of Mental Health Awareness Week and opening up more a little on just a small portion of what I have gone through, just a little of the invisible battle I fight on a day to day basis has me feeling a little relieved, proud, hopeful (that’s it’s helped someone), nervous and beyond anxious. I couldn’t tell you how many times I almost convinced myself not to post one of my posts but pushed through my anxiety and fears that is forever raising its ugly head and clicked that ‘publish’ button.
But more than anything it has left me emotionally and mentally fried and on edge. As relieving as it is to finally have some of my demons off my chest and out into the open its still an incredibly difficult thing to open up about so publicly and I still have to stop myself from re-reading through my posts, knowing that I would find some reason for me to delete them. So I do apologise if any of my posts have any grammar/spelling mistake or words missing but I do fear that if I let myself read over them so thoroughly then I’m going to convince myself to delete it. Defeating the whole purpose of writing it in the first place and starting this blog.
So I want to take the attention from my mental health today and direct it onto our pets. Now when we look at animals and think about animals we don’t really take into account that our animals, our pets could be suffering from mental health illnesses. We know that like us, they can have physical illnesses/disabilities, so why do we never think that they can have mental illnesses and disabilities too?
Whether you have been following my blog for a long time or not a lot of you will know that I have a cat called Kitt-Katt (yes like the chocolate). Whom I have had for a little over six years now, Kitt-Katt has become my little heart and soul, I don’t know what I’d do without him in my life.
I believe when we pick a pet for ourselves we pick them because we see something in them that we see in ourselves, something broken or lost, or a means to feel needed in life by having another life depend on you. What ever the reason that pet has little piece of our personality in them, it draws us to them in ways we can’t explain.
When I would look at Kitt, It instantly dawned on me that he was cat version of me. I was/am a creature that like him is full of so much anxiety that I’m almost bouncing out of my skin from it, trying to blend into the background and shadows of the world in the hopes to avoid human contact and interaction as much as I can. What I saw in him broke my heart, I couldn’t find it in myself to feel sorry for me, but for him? It wasn’t something I wanted, it was then I’d decided that we’d both find away to beat our mental problems together.
When I first got him he was so very timid, frightful of everything and at times, a little vicious when his fear over took him and he lashed out at someone (usually I’d find my self on the receiving end of his fear/anger because I didn’t want him harming anyone else). He was also worrying skinny to the point you could see bones sticking out of him, it appeared he was so frightful in his last owners home that he couldn’t even bring himself to eat so he never, he let himself starve.
As much as I wanted too I couldn’t really blame his previous owner fully for his condition. She was just uneducated before getting her cat and clearly thought that little care went into looking after one which is probably why she thought it would be a good idea to have one while she had a newly running around and rowdy toddler. I’m angry that she never took having a kitten so seriously, that she never did any research or that she thought her child wouldn’t be so hands on with an animal. It was clear that there was no teaching going on when it came to handling and caring for an animal, and that is what makes me so angry.
If you are going to get an animal for your child, the least you can do is teach your child how to be delicate with the animal, how to play and properly behave around an animal (as apposed to having your child throw a 4 month old kitten into a washing machine and probably just telling your child off for the one action, instead of taking time to sit down and educate them a little so the next time they came a cross an animal they’d be more confident and gentle around it). But this isn’t what this post is about.
For a week he wouldn’t move out of a corner in a room under the dining table out of fear. I could see it in his eyes and it broke my heart. You could see he was suffering and I just couldn’t take it.
When I had finally managed to get him exploring the house a little more, he would instantly run back into that corner of his at the slightest of sounds. After 6 long, hard months of trail and error I had finally got Kitt to the point where he was sleeping in my bed with me, sitting on the couch, sitting next to me while I read a book. I had him playing with toys and gaining a lot more weight.
Kitt (like myself) instantly took to my boyfreind and was already at ease with him, it forever melts my heart seeing them together and the bond that was instantly in place. Even I had to work for my bond with Kitt and he’s my cat!
It was more than pretty clear that Kitt suffers with extreme anxiety and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and a helping hand as well patience and gentle love and care. It’s taken five years to see a big difference in that time he has had kittens and (before he has his kittens there was no need in getting him done, he wasn’t aggressive with other cats, very submissive and didn’t seem to know why he owned a peinse -for the longest time we all believed I had a gay cat running arounf the house which was prefect for me, it meant I wouldn’t have worry about getting him done and dealing with any babies he makes -so there was never a need to have him done until he met my sister’s cat Misty-Moo.) been done, he has gone missing for two days and come back, he has had a few blow outs and a few set backs but now, now he’s like a totally different cat.
When my Kitt met Misty-Moo he was instantly smitten with her, and it seem her with him. They instantly started playing together. This would be the first time my Kitt played with another cat, he was usually scared of other cats -female and males alike- and only played with humans. You would finding them sleeping side by side together, taking little naps and my Kitt even caught a mouse for her! (Don’t get me wrong I hate when my cats bring dead things into the garden, but the gesture in itself and coming from my Kitt was beyond sweet and something I didn’t even think he would ever do. It really seems as though my Kitt has fallen in love with Misty-moo)
Today Kitt’s anxiety is much less sever than it was 5 years ago, and although he still has his bad days/weeks, he seems to be a lot more happier. It wasn’t easy in getting him to this place, and there had been more than a few occasions where I almost took him to the vets asking for some kind of anxiety medication for him but I wasn’t ready to give up just yet, I still wasn’t convinced that his mental health was so sever that he needed the medication, I still believed he just needed to be shown the proper love, care and patience.
I have another pet with a mental health issue which I will post tomorrow as the last day of Mental Health Awareness Week (though I am going to continue posting a lot more mental health awareness related posts for Mental Health Awareness Month)
I hope that this post can make you look and view your pets in a different light, and if your pet seem extra timid or angry/vicious it could be for a really good reason. They could be mentally or even physically suffering! Take them to the vet, see if their behaviour is caused by a bone or skin or something other unseen problem. If not, stop and think maybe your pet is suffering mentally then, and if so, you then need to determine whether it’s so bad that your love, care, patience, time and energy won’t be able to help them then please take them to the vet and get them the medication they need. I don’t like the thought of any animals on medication, but like with us humans sometimes we need that extra bit of help that no one, not even ourselves can give us.
Last week I had made the decision for myself to go back onto anti-depressants, I have them sat in my cupboard untouched because I’m still not entirely sure about it, however the past couples of months have made me think more and more, and I have been thinking that I may need that little extra bit of help until I can fully help myself right now. And I’m not sure if I’ll even end up taking them this year but I want others to know that it’s OKAY if the help of others and yourself isn’t getting you anywhere, if their help isn’t helping, it doesn’t make you weak or a bad person for needing medication. Everyone has their ways of help, sometimes our problems are more extreme than others which mean sometimes that extra bit of help is needed.
And it doesn’t make you a bad pet owner if you can’t help your pet. Like us sometimes the need more help than we can provide and that’s OKAY. That’s helping them and giving them the relief and peace they never even knew existed. Helping your pet doesn’t make you a bad pet owner.
And to pet owners thinking about giving up their pet due to behaviour, please just take a second to stop and think… What if there more to it that meets the eye, what you can still get to keep your pet and help your pet feel the peace and love it needs.
Please don’t give up on your pets, they wouldn’t give up on you!