Cats and Multiple Sclerosis: Reader Stories

People with MS share how their cats have made their lives a little better.

I cannot express enough how wonderful I think pets are for people who have any struggles in their lives (which describes pretty much anyone), especially people with MS [Read more: The Benefits of Pets for People with MS]. Regardless of how I feel at any given time, petting soft fur and feeling unconditional acceptance radiating off of a creature who doesn't see any of your faults, quiets my mind and brings down my stress level, inevitably making me feel my MS symptoms just a little less.

I highly recommend it.

However, I feel a little guilty. I have posted a couple of times about dogs and how they can be wonderful for people with multiple sclerosis, both as service animals and as loving companions [Read: People with MS Talk About How Their Dogs Help Them: Part 1 and Part 2]. However, I realize that many of you have cats that make your life a little more wonderful.

Although I have not owned a cat in a long time, I do remember the comfort that a purring cat could bring to me when I was under stress or sad. When I had bouts of insomnia, having a cat snuggled up next to me would work wonders in helping me "let go" of worrisome thoughts, allowing me to drift off to sleep.

I have also noticed that cats tend to come into people's lives in unusual ways, sometimes just when they are needed to fill a gap or bring some happiness.

  • I’m 35 years old & have known that I have MS for almost 5 yrs. I got my 1st cat when I left home at 17, Simba. She’s been my best friend ever since. I’ve suffered from depression all my life and I can say with 100% certainty that many times over the years my animals have kept me sane.
  • Four years ago I decided it was time for me to adopt a pet. Since I live in a condo development, dogs are not permitted. So I decided to adopt a four-week-old kitten, who I named Lucy (that’s right Ricky - I named her Lucy because of all the laughter your Lucy brought me). It was one of the best decisions I ever made. For the first year it was just Lucy and myself, so we bonded very quickly. Her calming purring is what I needed as I was all alone. She has become the most loving cat I have ever known and still loves me unconditionally.
  • I have always had very physical work, that is until MS entered my life at age 25. Not only did I feel like a non-productive member of society, but I was told that by my partner of 14 years as well! To make a long story short, I’ve left the mental abuse. My 14-year-old cat Percy is with me and my 4-year-old daughter (my motivation). Thanks to my dependable cat, who was there for me when I was suffering MS attacks and helping me through tough times, I got back the self esteem to be the best single mom that I can be!
  • My wife believes that our cat was sent by an angel. We named him Joseph because he was looking for shelter. On that day there was hard packed snow that had been on the ground since before Thanksgiving and it was very cold. I went outside and just said “Here, kitty...” and he attached himself to me. We had some cat food from an earlier visit from our daughter's cats and after being fed he had no desire to leave. He has gone from 9 to 18 lbs. in these comfortable years. When my MS diagnosis came, we were both certain Joseph was indeed sent by an angel since he provided so much comfort.
  • Wow, cats are great healers. My current cat Kabuki chose me I was working at a vet hospital and he was a rescue. When I came to work one morning this kitten was meowing - I walked over and said "Shhh, Honey." He got quiet. Whenever I left the room he started to meow. I would walk back in and he would be quiet. My boss said he was mine. That was in May 2003. Whenever I feel sick or down he comes to me. The funny thing is the one time I was in the hospital he sat by the front door until I came home. He is so awesome!!!!!!
  • Animals are wonderful and wondrous creatures to have around us. I love both cats and dogs — and bats, rats, ferrets, et cetera, ad infinitum! — but having to walk a dog when I have MS just doesn’t sound like a good idea. So we found a cat who lifted up her head to smile at me when I first saw her in her cage. She came home with us, to be named Moxie, and she lives out that name perfectly! She’s been with us for more than 2 years now, and she’s just wonderful to have here. 
  • I absolutely adore my cats! They give me a definite feeling of peace and comfort. I had a bout of severe vertigo in December of 2010, around the same time one of my beloved cats, Bodie developed liver disease and two weeks later he passed away. In a MRI scan from December of 2011, my neurologist discovered that the vertigo was actually caused by new lesions that had formed in my brain. I attribute that happening due to the stress of losing my sweet, furry friend!
  • Feeling lost and very depressed, I volunteered to open my home to foster kittens for the SPCA. At that time we still had four other cats. However, within five months, my husband showed up at my worksite with the tiniest little gray kitten in his hands. I fell in love the moment I laid eyes on him.  We named him Zazu Grayson. He has been a member of our family now for just over six months. He is such a charmer and we are training him to do tricks by using a clicker and treats. He sleeps in my arms every night. It makes dealing with my sporadic yet uncomfortable MS symptoms so much easier to bear.
  • I was diagnosed with MS in Sept. 2010, finally escaped an abusive marriage the next month and moved back “home.” I also medically retired (due to MS) after a 20-year nursing career. It was a sad time for me. Not long after my son and I moved “home,” the most beautiful, green-eyed cat just showed up! I named her Jade afterf her exquisitely gorgeous eyes. Then, a few months after she joined out family, we rescued a teensy weensy baby kitten that had been abandoned at a river near our home. We bottle-fed her & I wasn’t sure she was going to make it. But she thrived and is a most-loved addition. She is Sylvia…I can’t imagine not having those sweet furbabies!! =)
  • I work full time, have MS, and I don’t have one cat, I have 4. Aside from the fact that I have fallen over a well-meant leg rub at times, they are a true comfort in my life.
  • When I am in bed for days at a time, they all take turns checking on their "mommy," laying with me in the bed even though my husband is taking perfectly good care of them, they still miss their "mommy."
  • I have always had cats. People would abandon them close to my property, and they always migrated up to my house. I’ve loved them all and they have all given me comfort, even before I was diagnosed with MS. I have this one old soul, Rocky, he knows when I can’t sleep. He comes to bed and purrs me to sleep. It works every time. He knows when I need him and when I don’t!

Bottom Line: Pets can give us love, even when we don't like ourselves that much. 

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