With all the stresses in our modern world, animals like therapy cats can provide a lot of support and comfort. Therapy animals of all kinds have become quite popular across the world. In the U.S. alone, more than 50,000 therapy dogs and 500,000 service dogs exist. While more people seem to own emotional support dogs than cats, felines can offer love and affection just the same.

For one man, therapy cats gave him so much more than he could’ve imagined. They not only offered companionship but improved his mental health as well. Many people who have emotional support animals report fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression and greater happiness. Niklas Lundström from Sweden experienced these benefits himself and decided to share his story with us.

He has two therapy cats – one named Cooper, a Sphynx, and Kira, a Cornish Rex. Both are eight years old and get along wonderfully, sometimes playing for hours. They have become quite popular with people online who enjoy watching Niklas’ relationship with his cats.

“Cooper has become a world celebrity online, and it’s because he loves water. He thinks that water is the best thing there is, and he takes a bath twice a month,” Niklas says. “When he doesn’t take a bath, he searches for water everywhere.”

This behavior is rare for a cat since most of them would not touch the water with a ten-foot pole! Cooper’s love of water makes him intriguing and funny to watch, and people can’t get enough of him. Kira doesn’t have nearly as much energy as Cooper, but she makes up for it with her loving nature. The therapy cats balance themselves quite nicely with their complementary personalities.

The therapy cats Kira and Cooper have transformed Niklas’ life forever.

“People admire Kira’s beauty and how athletic she is. She is the cat that immediately becomes anxious when I don’t feel well,” Niklas says. “She always wants to take care of both me and Cooper, and can change a bad day into a good day.”

For Niklas, the two cats have been such a blessing in his life. They make the good days great and the bad days so much better.

“For me, Cooper and Kira are like two angels. I’ve been living with anxiety and depression for over 5 years, and these two cats give me so much joy every day.”

They do many activities together and truly enjoy each others’ company. He cuddles with them, takes them on drives, and even brings them to local parks and the beach to play.

“Cooper and Kira love to be outdoors, and they walk perfectly in a harness. Usually, we take walks at the beach and in the forest. Sometimes we meet people, and they always look at Cooper and Kira. Some of them say, ‘Oh, that’s some cute dogs.’”

Apparently, it takes some people by surprise to see cats on a leash, but Niklas wouldn’t have it any other way. The cats love to explore nature with him and seem well-behaved around other people. Many people could benefit from having therapy cats, so if you’re interested, Niklas offers some advice for newbies.

“My best advice is to search information about the cats, or the cat that you’re interested in, and always meet the cat before you decide because every cat is unique in its own way,” Niklas says. “Also, getting a kitten requires a lot of patience, but I can promise you that you will get the best friend in the world.”

Niklas suggests that you could even adopt a homeless cat, as many cats in the world live on the streets, unfortunately. Then, the cats breed, and the problem seems to multiply, especially in big cities. Choosing a homeless cat gives a helpless, vulnerable animal a home and gets them out of the harsh city environment. However, if you don’t want to adopt a homeless cat, you can always donate to organizations that help homeless animals.

The therapy cats have helped immensely with Niklas’ mental health. Of course, mental illness often requires a combination of treatments for people to feel better.

Besides Therapy Cats, Here Are Three Other Ways to Alleviate Depression and Anxiety

Here are some other tips Niklas offers about how to manage anxiety and depression from his website:

rescued pit bull
1. Exercise regularly

“Perhaps the most boring proposal for some, but also very important. It can be difficult to get the courage to start exercising, especially if you are depressed. I have always trained and continued to do so while I had extreme anxiety. An important part is to get away from home, where anxiety can often be accelerated. The hour I practiced made me disperse my thoughts and shift my focus again. The bonus after training was that I felt more tired in the evening/night and that my sleep got better. Find a workout that works for you. There is no right or wrong.

2. Pick up some hobbies

Here you can make the hours pass quickly if you find something that interests you. I also got the feeling that I was actually good at something. I did not really have a hobby before 2016, but I got a new hobby in the middle of my worst time in life, I totally stuck to photography, and that was the way I then started my Instagram.

3. Talk about how you feel

This was the hardest part for me. I had not talked emotions for over 30 years, and now I needed to do it to survive. I started talking with the ”easy” familiar people, such as family and closest friends. When I noticed that people cared about me and listened to me, then I gained the confidence to dare to talk openly about it. In 2018, I took the step out into the media and told my story. That’s when I realized that I was not alone with anxiety. It’s very important that you understand that you are not alone. I absolutely don’t mean that you need to take the “extreme” step and tell the whole world how you feel. But for me, it was an important part to be able to tell my story and hopefully help others out there.”