In 2018, Phil offered black-and-white cat Tasha a forever home after she had spent a year in the care of Cats Protection’s Gateshead & Newcastle Branch.
In return, the three-year-old moggy has enriched the life of her new owner, by helping him with his mental health struggles.
Cats Protection conducted research as part of its More Than Just a Cat campaign, which highlights the many ways cats enhance and enrich people’s lives. It showed that 93.5% of cat owners think that owning a cat has a positive effect on their mental wellbeing¹.
Phil, a web developer, said: “I’ve always been a cat fan, but hadn’t been able to live with any for the last five years, due to landlord restrictions.
“Coincidentally, my mental health had gone downhill a lot during those five years, so I decided I had to tackle the problem.
“I did my research and discovered Emotional Support Animals were a recognised thing, and asked my GP for help. He wrote a letter to my landlord and the landlord agreed to let me have one feline housemate. Result!”
With permission granted for Phil to welcome a cat into his life, it was in fact sheer luck that brought him and his new feline friend together.
“I was getting a lift to an event I was speaking at and my talk had lots of cats in it as visual metaphors, so I was thinking about cats,” said Phil.
“Next thing I knew, we were driving past the Cats Protection logo on a newish looking building. I had no idea it was there, but I made a note to look it up when I got home. I read through the descriptions of each cat, saw she’d been on the bench for a year, and that was that - rescued.”
Tasha, who Phil has renamed Lucy Fur, a play on words from a song by one of his favourite heavy metal bands, soon settled into her new home and has made a big difference to his mental health.
Phil explained: “I’m very happy with my own company. That is, I don’t need the constant company of other humans in my life. I’m often in too much pain to even get out of bed, never mind leave the house to meet people. That doesn’t mean I don’t get lonely though, which is where Lucy enters the story.
“She can sense when I’m extra ill and her behaviour changes; she’s far more present and cuddly, less zoomy and playful. Then there are the head butts. Cat head butts are power-ups, they instantly boost my energy and enhance my life.”
“Lucy is more than just a cat, she’s my mental health coach.”
To get involved with the campaign, visit www.cats.org.uk/my-cat-is or Cat Protection’s social media pages (Cats Protection on Facebook and @CatsProtection on Twitter and Instagram) and use the hashtag #MoreThanJustACat.
To see cats in need of homes in your area visit www.cats.org.uk/find-a-cat
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For further information, case studies, photos or an interview, please contact Cats Protection’s Media Office by emailing on 01825 741 911 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
¹The survey of 2,000 cat owners was conducted for Cats Protection by 3 Gem Research and Insights during August 2019