alt=A woman cuddles with a cat in bed

How My Cat Has Helped My RA

Last updated: August 2022

Cats are very perceptive animals. In my case, my cat, Missy, always seems to know when something is wrong with me, both physically and mentally. When I'm stressed, I find her nudging her toys toward me as a way to say, "look! Play with me, and that will help with your stress too!"

Getting up and playing with her is also beneficial to me and my joints since it helps me get moving in a light and non-impactful way. Even when I'm sick, like when I was sick with COVID in April, I found that upon waking up, Missy would be resting on my chest, purring.

Animals can help us in so many ways

I’ve seen a few TikToks about this, with cat owners posting videos of their cat helping them feel better. In one video, a cat woke up their owner because she somehow knew that her owner was having an asthma attack and would not quit meowing until the owner woke up and got her inhaler. Afterward, the cat laid and purred on her owner’s chest. Her owner mentioned that this was not the first time her cat had done this, and that even in situations unrelated to asthma, her cat had helped her feel better.

My cat is my RA cheerleader

I'm not sure of the science behind this, but I know, at least in my mind, that this sort of interaction with my cat helps me feel better. As anyone with rheumatoid arthritis knows, sometimes, you don't want to do anything when you wake up in the morning. Everything seems like a burden, an extra chore, or something that seems like it will take a copious amount of energy to complete. But, with Missy, I feel like I have a little cheerleader encouraging me, telling me to keep going and to get up and try to do something small to get the day going. Honestly, she isn't necessarily doing that. Most of the time, she wants me to get up so that I feed her! But it's the thought that counts, right?

Do our pets know when we're sick?

I have been consistently intrigued by this idea that cats know when their humans are sick, consequently thinking about how that relates to people with chronic illnesses since we are always sick. What kind of toll does that have on her? Is she always wondering why I'm sick, even though I talk to her a lot about having RA (yes, I talk to my cat, and that is okay!)? She seems very protective of me, and even if she doesn't want me to pet her, she wants to be near me--on the same bed, looking at the same computer, on the same couch, etc. Is this because she is feeling my pain and wants to help? To communicate that she is nearby?

I love my furry companion

Having RA is a lonely experience, so it would make sense for this to be true. I've found Missy sometimes laying on specific joints that are hurting me that day, so I know she is at least aware of the concept of pain. This helps me breathe a sigh of relief to know that someone understands and, even though she can't experience it, she is there to hold and touch and say that it's okay.

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