My pets are vital to helping me manage my disease, mental health

Pets reduce anxiety and boost self-confidence, studies show

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by Noura Costany |

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I’m in bed, and it’s hours after I am supposed to have gotten up. The blanket feels heavier than usual and the burden of the day is overwhelming. I have things to do and work to finish, but pushing myself out of bed seems like the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I take seven deep breaths before deciding I’ll get up in five more minutes.

Five more minutes.

Five more minutes.

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These are the symptoms of Cushing’s disease that I missed

Pets and mental health

I don’t have the motivation to do it for myself, but I do have the motivation to do it for my two cats. If I’m stuck in bed, they’ll join me and usually tell me when it’s time to get up. I love them dearly and cannot imagine life without them.

A cat lies with its eyes closed and paw draped over a person's hand.

Noura Costany’s youngest cat, Pacha, rests with its paw draped over their hand. (Photo by Noura Costany)

I have a stress-based illness called Cushing’s disease, and having a pet has been vital to my journey. Studies have shown that pets actually reduce anxiety and boost self-confidence, and for me this has been true. I spend time with my pets every day and have found that it really does keep me calmer — even with all the furniture they scratch up!

Pets can even help with chronic pain. My cats seem to have a sixth sense about when I’m in a flare-up and they’ll sit on me, refusing to let me up until I’ve rested. For someone like me, who works from home and isn’t able to go far without a friend or my partner, the companionship my pets provide is invaluable.

What about the bad days?

As amazing as it can be, having an animal is a huge responsibility. I have to recognize there are days when I cannot show up for my furry friends so on those days, I make sure I have things in place so they are cared for.

Cats must get some exercise and if I can’t play with them, I make sure they have toys that are a pretty good second choice. They have a laser pointer toy that is their favorite and a little butterfly that jumps around the room. We also have a cute little water fountain for them. They love the running water.

A cat reaches its paw forward toward the photographer.

Korra, Noura Costany’s older cat, reaches a paw out toward the photographer. (Courtesy of Noura Costany)

My husband is currently taking charge of feeding our cats because the dry food container is too much for me to lift and I get dizzy trying to feed them.

Automatic feeders that release dry food and treats can come in handy if you don’t have someone to take on the chore of feeding them. This isn’t a permanent solution, as most cats need wet food, but it can be beneficial on the most difficult days. There are even automatic litter boxes. They can be quite the investment, so I don’t have one, but an old roommate did and he swore by it!

I am so grateful to my cats, who are vital members of my family. They keep me motivated, loved, and as stress-free as I possibly can be.

How do your pets help you? Please share in the comments below. You can also follow my journey on TikTok and YouTube.

Note: Cushing’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cushing’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Cushing’s.


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