Tuesday 1 August 2023

A stressed cat owner cannot be a good cat owner

We know how competently even brilliantly domestic cats can de-stress their owner. It's one reason why we live with cats. They are great companions and they help stop us from getting too wound up because once they are on your lap you have to slow down a bit. And they get in the way when you are on your computer. You either accept that and work around it or you fight it and become more anxious and stressed.

A stressed cat owner may have a stressed as well and a stress cat owner cannot really discharge their responsibilities to a high level.
A stressed cat owner may have a stressed as well and a stress cat owner cannot really discharge their responsibilities to a high level. The image is by Michael.

But the point is that if a cat owner is stressed by their lifestyle, by their work or by any manner of reasons, they are not going to be a great cat caregiver.

Stress leads to anxiety and anxiety leads to depression. You can't be a good cat caregiver if you are stressed and anxious although, as mentioned, there is the counter measure which is that although being stressed prevents you being a good cat caregiver, living with a cat makes you a better cat caregiver because it calms you down! 

The problem is that in the meantime you are likely to interact with your cat in a less than good way because of your anxiety. If you are irritated because of stress then you are going to be irritated by your cat at some point. And you might yell at your cat or behave towards your cat in a brusque and unsatisfactory way. There is no blame in this. It is just a simple fact.

I know for a fact that if I'm stressed, I'm not going to present the best side of me in terms of cat caregiving. I might be irritated because my cat brushes against my bare legs and at that moment in time I don't want to feel that. I want to get on with what I'm doing and my cat is getting in the way of achieving that.

But in having a cat we have to be prepared to compromise and to give way to our cat. We are sharing the same environment as our cat. The environment should be pleasant and mentally stimulating for our cat.

It's an interesting mix because on the one side there is the responsibility of caring for a cat well and this in itself can make a person stressed, and yet on the other side there is the pleasure of looking after a cat and the pleasures that flow from it which helps to de-stress a person.

A person stressed by the responsibilities of caring for their cat

There is an interesting post on the Reddit.com website about a person who adopted a cat and became very stressed because they wanted to do their absolute best in looking after their cat. They did everything possible to make the life of their cat as good as possible.

In striving for this state of affairs, the cat owner became very stressed. They went to the Reddit.com website to ask for advice because the person didn't even feel a bond to their cat after doing so much for them. And they asked, "How can I stop holding the bar up so high for myself and revolve my life around my cat?"

I think the ultimate answer as to how you relate to your cat and care for your cat is that you must simply love her or him. If you love your cat everything good flows from that starting point. You will find out what your cat likes and loves and what makes them happy and indeed what makes you happy. And you will find out whether you are suited to being a cat caregiver. You've got to actually like or even love cats to successfully live with a cat companion. That must be a starting point and it is common sense but some people might not think about that when they decide to adopt a cat.

There's no point in regarding cat caregiving as solely a responsibility and a duty. It should be a pleasure to look after a cat. Then you receive the pleasure of living with your cat. It should be entirely reciprocal with equal mutual benefit.

Human to human relationship

There is another quick point to make which is this: if you are in a relationship with a person which is not going that well and you both live in the same home as your cat, it's going to affect your cat negatively, which probably goes without saying. It is another source of stress for you and it will taint the ambience of the household. Domestic cats pick up on that. They demand, really, a calm and stable household.

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