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The Therapeutic Quality of Cats

Stress and anxiety, as well as depression, can all play contributing roles to IBS or even at times be directly responsible for a flare.

As such, I find it very helpful to employ techniques to keep my stress levels as low as possible and to help fend off the blues. It can be really tough at times. Living with chronic pain and several chronic illnesses in and of itself can be anxiety-inducing. This is especially the case when I also have to juggle my disabilities with work, paying the bills, keeping my home clean, and other responsibilities of adult life.

In my early twenties — only about a year after I had surgery to diagnose and treat a case of severe endometriosis, and in a recovery period when my IBS was somewhat in remission — I decided to adopt a cat.

Unintentional pet therapy for IBS

My cat has been a consistent source of love and support through some very trying times in my life: when I was going through the death of several of my closest family members, my father’s stroke, a split-up with my long-term romantic partner of nearly a decade, not to mention the tribulations of my medical conditions. Through it all, he’s been with me, and I think it is not a stretch to say he has helped to keep my IBS from ever fully relapsing to what it was before I had him.

When I am suffering from a flare, he seems to intuitively know. He will snuggle up close, sometimes even trying to sleep right on my belly where the pain is at its worst (sometimes this helps, sometimes I have to gently relocate him because it’s too much weight).

My pet is my companion through IBS

I now have two cats and they keep me company when my IBS keeps me from doing much or leaving the home. My first cat, Cokey, also has kitty IBS, and in a weird way it is also assuring to share this illness with him and see how he bounces back from his own flares, because it makes me feel better or more accepting of my own situation (which helps me recover faster from flares and bad spells).

This isn’t to say having animals can’t sometimes be stressful. They get sick too, and it can be worrying and even expensive to deal with. But it has been worth it to me to receive in return the unconditional love and support they offer, which outweighs any of the downsides of having a companion animal.

What about you? Do you have any pets and does it help your healing or at least better deal with your IBS? Please answer in the comments section below!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Emily Downward
    6 months ago

    I have a cat (Elsie), who also helps me when my IBS or fibromyalgia flares. She is very affectionate and often spends time snuggled on my lap. Knowing that she loves and accepts me no matter what helps me accept when my belly is bloated and also lessens my pain and frustration.

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