Photo Credit: Poulomi Mazumdar

Lessons on Mental Health from Cats

Poulomi believed that cats were evil and filthy, until she met her cat, Bilhu, who brought trust and tranquility during pandemic times.
India, Southern Asia

Story by Poulomi Mazumdar. Edited by Sterre van Dord
Published on January 15, 2022. Reading time: 4 minutes

This story is also available in kr



My rendezvous with cats started in October 2019, when I noticed four wriggly kittens in a grocery shop and could not help myself from playing with them. However, I could not bring myself to touch or lift them. It was odd for an adult in her late 20’s to be so petrified of teeny-weeny kittens. This ‘oddity’ can mainly be attributed to social taboos linked to cats that I heard in my childhood: “cats are evil,” “cats are unloving,” “cats cannot be trusted,” and so on. I was also told as a kid that strays are filthy, they bite, and I should not be touching them. Never did I ever imagine that one kitten would transform my life.

Billu, my cat, came into my life when I was going through a rough patch and found it difficult to trust people. My friendship with her began when I started feeding and playing with her  at the grocery shop, which was her make-shift residence. Gradually I was able to touch her and then lift her. I used to be overwhelmed when she would run to me, staggering over piles of boxes as soon as I called her name. Eventually, I brought her home one evening and thereafter we became family. Over time we both learned to adjust to each other’s habits and annoyances. In the process, I learnt to trust again.

A few months after I adopted my cat, COVID-19 overshadowed our lives and starved most of us of human touch. In the lockdown, my cat was my only companion and consolation. A few pats and scratches here and there on my cat were enough for me to feel wanted. As per Newport Academy, “petting and playing with animals reduces stress-related hormones.  And these benefits can occur after just five minutes of interacting with a pet.”[1]

On days when I felt anxious, my cat’s mere presence was enough to bring tranquility to the commotion inside me. Language was never a barrier for us to express ourselves. Every day she would wait for me to return from the office and greet me with a loud “meow” as if to say, “Mom, I missed you.” Our relationship thrived on trust and mutual respect. I was beside my cat at all times for days after she was spayed. I realized that caring for her was a lifetime commitment and gradually built my routine around her, which further relieved my stress. With time, all the taboos I had associated with cats were shattered and our bond grew stronger.

Over the next few months in lockdown, I befriended a few stray cats and fed them during my evening strolls. These interactions brought out the caregiver in me and led me to another kitten whom I picked from the roadside, fostered and then got her adopted. Caregiving is a selfless act and I understood that not all those we care for may be capable of reciprocating the same. Not only could I save lives, but caregiving also brought a sense of responsibility and consciousness about animals in my surroundings.

Cats gave me the sense of belonging that I otherwise lacked in my life. They accepted me just as I was without a speck of doubt. Contrary to their reputation, cats are extremely forgiving. They can trust people even after being abused by their kind. If cats could give head butts to a stranger despite their everyday struggle, the least I could do was to love myself in spite of all my shortcomings.


[1] https://www.newportacademy.com/resources/well-being/pets-and-mental-health/#:~:text=Studies%20around%20pets%20and%20mental,levels%20of%20serotonin%20and%20dopamine.


How does this story make you feel?

Follow-up

Do you have any questions after reading this story? Do you want to follow-up on what you've just read? Get in touch with our team to learn more! Send an email to
[email protected].

Talk about this Story

Please enable cookies to view the comments powered by Disqus.

Share your story

Every story we share is another perspective on a complex topic like migration, gender and sexuality or liberation. We believe that these personal stories are important to better understand what's going on in our globalised society - and to better understand each other. That's because we are convinced that the more we understand about each other, the easier it will be for us to really talk to one another, to get closer - and to maybe find solutions for the issues that affect us all. 

Do you want to share your story? Then have a look here for more info.

Share Your Story

Subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter

Stay up to date with new stories on Correspondents of the World by subscribing to our monthly newsletter:

* indicates required

Follow us on Social Media

Poulomi Mazumdar

Poulomi Mazumdar

Poulomi Mazumdar is a development sector consultant who is based in Mumbai, India. She is mainly involved in monitoring & evaluation of programmes across agriculture and social development sectors.

The mission of her life has been to bring about sustainable changes and leading by example. As a pledge towards a sustainable life, she actively serves the animals in her community, is an urban gardener, and also encourages others to do their part.

Topic: Coronavirus




Get involved

At Correspondents of the World, we want to contribute to a better understanding of one another in a world that seems to get smaller by the day - but somehow neglects to bring people closer together as well. We think that one of the most frequent reasons for misunderstanding and unnecessarily heated debates is that we don't really understand how each of us is affected differently by global issues.

Our aim is to change that with every personal story we share.

Share Your Story

Community Worldwide

Correspondents of the World is not just this website, but also a great community of people from all over the world. While face-to-face meetings are difficult at the moment, our Facebook Community Group is THE place to be to meet other people invested in Correspondents of the World. We are currently running a series of online-tea talks to get to know each other better.

Join Our Community

EXPLORE TOPIC Coronavirus

Global Issues Through Local Eyes

We are Correspondents of the World, an online platform where people from all over the world share their personal stories in relation to global development. We try to collect stories from people of all ages and genders, people with different social and religious backgrounds and people with all kinds of political opinions in order to get a fuller picture of what is going on behind the big news.

Our Correspondents

At Correspondents of the World we invite everyone to share their own story. This means we don't have professional writers or skilled interviewers. We believe that this approach offers a whole new perspective on topics we normally only read about in the news - if at all. If you would like to share your story, you can find more info here.

Share Your Story

Our Editors

We acknowledge that the stories we collect will necessarily be biased. But so is news. Believing in the power of the narrative, our growing team of awesome editors helps correspondents to make sure that their story is strictly about their personal experience - and let that speak for itself.

Become an Editor

Vision

At Correspondents of the World, we want to contribute to a better understanding of one another in a world that seems to get smaller by the day - but somehow neglects to bring people closer together as well. We think that one of the most frequent reasons for misunderstanding and unnecessarily heated debates is that we don't really understand how each of us is affected differently by global issues.

Our aim is to change that with every personal story we share.

View Our Full Vision & Mission Statement

Topics

We believe in quality over quantity. To give ourselves a focus, we started out to collect personal stories that relate to our correspondents' experiences with six different global topics. However, these topics were selected to increase the likelihood that the stories of different correspondents will cover the same issues and therefore illuminate these issues from different perspectives - and not to exclude any stories. If you have a personal story relating to a global issue that's not covered by our topics, please still reach out to us! We definitely have some blind spots and are happy to revise our focus and introduce new topics at any point in time. 

Environment

Discussions about the environment often center on grim, impersonal figures. Among the numbers and warnings, it is easy to forget that all of these statistics actually also affect us - in very different ways. We believe that in order to understand the immensity of environmental topics and global climate change, we need the personal stories of our correspondents.

Gender and Sexuality

Gender is the assumption of a "normal". Unmet expectations of what is normal are a world-wide cause for violence. We hope that the stories of our correspondents will help us to better understand the effects of global developments related to gender and sexuality, and to reveal outdated concepts that have been reinforced for centuries.

Migration

Our correspondents write about migration because it is a deeply personal topic that is often dehumanized. People quickly become foreigners, refugees - a "they". But: we have always been migrating, and we always will. For millions of different reasons. By sharing personal stories about migration, we hope to re-humanize this global topic.

Liberation

We want to support the demand for justice by spotlighting the personal stories of people who seek liberation in all its different forms. Our correspondents share their individual experiences in creating equality. We hope that for some this will be an encouragement to continue their own struggle against inequality and oppression - and for some an encouragement to get involved.

Education

Education is the newest addition to our themes. We believe that education, not only formal but also informal, is one of the core aspects of just and equal society as well as social change. Our correspondents share their experiences and confrontations about educational inequalities, accessibility issues and influence of societal norms and structures. 

Corona Virus

2020 is a year different from others before - not least because of the Corona pandemic. The worldwide spread of a highly contagious virus is something that affects all of us in very different ways. To get a better picture of how the pandemic's plethora of explicit and implicit consequences influences our everyday life, we share lockdown stories from correspondents all over the world.

Growing Fast

Although we started just over a year ago, Correspondents of the World has a quickly growing community of correspondents - and a dedicated team of editors, translators and country managers.

85

Correspondents

103

Stories

48

Countries

342

Translations

Contact

Correspondents of the World is as much a community as an online platform. Please feel free to contact us for whatever reason!

Message Us

Message on WhatsApp

Call Us

Joost: +31 6 30273938