The Pros and Cons to Adopting a Cat

I’m not sure when it started, but somewhere in my childhood I became obsessed with cats. My family had a turtle and two gerbils, but I begged my parents for a cat. They didn’t budge. Then one day in school we were making picture books, and I wrote a story called, “Can I Have a Cat?” I dedicated it to my dad.

A child’s wish is granted

Apparently I melted my dad’s heart because not too long after he came home with a flee-ridden kitten under his shirt. We got rid of the flees and named her Honey. The princess who was just as sweet as her name (um, most of the time) lived from when I was in elementary school all the way to the summer after I got married.

lisabenson_honey

Finding the right time for a pet

For years my husband and I were moving around a lot and it wasn’t a good time to adopt a cat of our own. We ended up moving from our home in Massachusetts to New York City and living in a studio apartment which didn’t seem like the right environment for a cat. That’s when my migraine attacks became chronic, and it was hard enough to take care of myself, never mind a pet. So the idea of a pet faded even more.

A few years later we moved back to Massachusetts and then to a much larger apartment that allowed pets. Also, the migraine attacks were less frequent at that point. And in a moment of serendipity (and perhaps creative salesmanship), a woman I was doing some work for carried a kitten in under her shirt, much like my dad did with Honey all those years ago. His name was Moon, and he was up for adoption.

While it was a no-brainer to adopt Moon at the time, it would have been difficult under certain circumstances. Cats can be nice cuddle buddies, but young kittens need a lot of play and attention, can tend towards nocturnal habits, and that means a lot of energy and broken sleep. If my migraines were as frequent as they were back in New York, Moon would not have been the cat for me.

Considering the energy needed for kittens

For example, for the last few mornings the Full Moon has decided to try to wake us up an hour earlier than we normally do by meow-ing by the bed until we play with him. Sleep disturbances are a migraine trigger for me and I actually have had a mild migraine for the last few days (I can’t solely blame my fur-buddy though, as I’ve had other triggers). Also, he is always ready to play when I get home from work. When my migraine attacks were chronic, often the first thing I did when I got home was collapse onto the couch or bed in pain. I wouldn’t have been able to handle the lively play sessions that the Moonster requires to be happy (he loves hide and seek, stealthily stalking the mouse behind the curtain, and chasing a good ol’ fashioned ball of yarn). I am glad I have the energy for him because the last thing I’d want to do is care for a creature if I repeatedly feel I cannot give him a great life. Also, I want to be able to enjoy his company in turn.

Seeking comfort in the feline companion

As the fluff monster matures, he will need less play time. He’ll sleep more and maybe wake us up less. He is already starting to mellow some. But it was an important lesson to me to know that cats are not always as low-maintenance as their reputation makes them out to be. Moon is perfect for my current energy levels and schedule, but if I were dealing with more frequent or severe migraine attacks I think I may have opted to adopt an adult cat with a more calm personality. I would definitely recommend anyone who is dealing with migraine to get to know the personality of a cat or other pet before adopting and make sure they are the right fit for their situation. Hopefully you’ll end up with a lovely companion that helps you de-stress and combat the loneliness that can come with chronic illness. I know I did.

Do you own a cat? How has it affected your life with migraine? Can your cat’s habits trigger an attack or is she/he a comfort when you’re feeling bad?

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

Comments

View Comments (7)
  • Erin
    2 years ago

    I live with two cats. I call them my furry monsters. I love them both dearly. My sister is a type I diabetic with three complications, one of which is neuropathy. It can cripple her, so I care for the cats mostly by myself. It helps me feel better that I can do something, even if it is just feeding the cats, or cleaning their boxes. My Patchie Boo always knows when the pain is the worst, he curls around my head and gently purrs. I don’t know what I’d do without him. Remus, my sister’s cat, mostly loves me from afar. I can’t imagine not having cats in my life.

  • Heather
    2 years ago

    I’ve had several cats over my lifetime, and there have definitely been times when I was unable to care for them–and my kids had to take on that responsibility. Then I went about two years without any pets. It was a relief to have fewer “dependents” and responsibilities, but I found that I was very lonely and my depression got worse. I think our children and other family members get burned out on mom’s “headaches”–they don’t really understand how debilitating migraines can be, or how hard it is for us to do the basic things we have to for them. So I don’t really get much emotional support form my kids.

    I got so very lucky when I adopted my 10-year old cat Smoochie from Craigslist. He is a Maine Coon mix, and he is very true to the breed. He follows me around, sits on or next to me all the time, but requires very little active play time on my part. He will sit with me and snuggle all day–he’s actually glad when I have a bad day and have to stay home from work. He’s been a true therapy pet, and really helped with my depression.

    He does try to wake me up too early in the morning as Lisa describes in the article, so I often have to lock him out of my room at night. But I don’t know what I would do without him at this point, he is so essential to my self-care. No cat I’ve ever had before has been so devoted and affectionate–I call him my stalker because literally everywhere I go, he comes too.

  • Lisa Robin Benson moderator author
    2 years ago

    Awww, Moon is a maine coon, too! They’re great! Smooches to Smoochie!
    -Lisa

  • Tamara
    2 years ago

    Another option is getting two kittens so they always have a playmate. I had to get a second cat for my boy when I moved out because he was super lonely (especially when I had migraines for days and couldn’t play). Now I have two hyper active cats (plus 3 rodents in cages) to take care. Sometimes it gets hard when the chronic pain gets really bad but more often having to get out of bed and take care of them makes the depression lightens and improves the pain.

    Love the cuddles and purring when the pain is bad – calms me right down. Love dogs more except I would miss the purr so I own kitties that act very much like dogs!!

  • Lisa Robin Benson moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi Tamara,
    Great suggestions. I wish we’d adopted 2 at a time!
    I agree on the purring. 🙂
    Lisa

  • Luna
    2 years ago

    Have had cats for 45 years. Would be lonely without any. Currently I live with 3 cats. Had 9 cats at one time but have not replaced any as I’ve gone from episodic to chronic to daily silent. Could handle more now except my oldest cat, almost 19, would be upset and would not be fair to him. When I rescue another cat it will be older not a kitten. My biggest challenge with cats is having to take them to the vet. “Toxic air.”

    My cats are a great comfort to me. When I lay back or sit down one or more is there to keep me company. They sleep around me at night. Sometimes they get me so pinned down it is difficult to turn over. My oldest cat likes to go outdoors with me and get involved with what I’m doing. He used to go walking with me also.

  • Lisa Robin Benson moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thanks for sharing, Luna! I love the cat picture in your profile. 🙂
    Lisa

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