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    • 16 May, 2019

    Rescue kittens help schoolgirl manage severe anxiety

    When Amy* aged 12 and her Mum Sophie* adopted two kittens from Mayhew last November, they had no idea just how important their new pets would become.

    Sadly, Amy was being bullied at school, which had led to a shattering loss of self-confidence and the onset of severe anxiety. Her Mum felt completely helpless, and had no idea how to try and turn things around.

    Eventually, things became so bad that Amy was signed off school by her GP.

    Whilst this was initially a relief for the family, as it would provide some respite from the bullying itself, Sophie was concerned that her daughter would spiral even further down into a cycle of worry and sadness if she was at home all day every day, with no friends to play or interact with.

    However, Sophie needn’t have worried – their two new kittens, who Amy named Rafiki and Zazu, quickly became Amy’s best friends and a positive force in her life.

    As the bond between Amy, Rafiki and Zazu grew, the twelve–year-old’s confidence and happiness slowly started to return. Alongside her home-schooling schedule, Amy would dedicate hours of every day to playing with, caring for and cuddling the kittens.

    Sophie noticed that Amy’s general mood was significantly improved after spending time with Rafiki and Zazu, and that her daughters panic and anxiety attacks were becoming far less frequent.

    She told us:


    “Amy was bullied at school, which led to her developing severe anxiety, and she’d even suggested ending her own life. It was a terrifying time for the family. Luckily, we had just adopted two rescue kittens from Mayhew, and when the doctors signed Amy off school, their bond just grew.”


    Amy's mum

    “The kittens gave Amy a reason to get up in the morning, and a reason to smile. She now laughs at their funny games and gives them cuddles; and she is already a much happier person all round. Having the kittens to love has made a huge difference to Amy’s mental health, and we are both so thankful to Mayhew, Rafiki and Zazu.”

    At Mayhew, we know that the companionship offered by an animal or pet goes a long way in reducing anxiety and stress, and boosting mood.

    Psychologists understand that spending even a short amount of time with an animal can improve social and cognitive functions, and offers a pleasant and positive distraction away from a general or specific stress or concern. Most people report they feel happier, calmer and more in control when they are around an animal.

    Sophie and Amy both agree wholeheartedly that their experience mirrors these findings. Amy even told us she is eventually hoping to return to school, and would like to volunteer at an animal shelter when she is old enough. Sophie is delighted that her daughter is thinking positively about the future, and loves seeing Amy, Zazu and Rafiki spend quality time together.

    *names have been changed to protect privacy

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