Cats played a crucial part during Covid-19 pandemic


13 November 2020
We all adore our cats and they have such an important role in our lives. However, they have played an even more crucial part during this pandemic, making our cats the unsung heroes of lockdown. Author, Rachel Wells shares her opinion...

This pandemic and its restrictions has affected so many people in so many ways, and although the strictest measures may have been lifted in some areas, there are still people shielding, others in lockdown and uncertainty surrounds us all. Many people are, quite rightly, worried about the virus and wondering when life might go back to any kind of normal. What is certain is that we are definitely spending more time at home than usual and whereas our cats might not have been overjoyed about that - mine glared at me on a daily basis at the start of lockdown - we needed our cats more than ever.

As a nation of pet lovers, our pets, our cats, were crucial to us during this time. For those living alone, their pet was their only companion and therefore life would have been unbearable without them. Unable to see family and friends, an increased reliance on our pets was inevitable. I, as a single parent spent lockdown at home with my son and my cat; they became my day to day world in a way that I’d never known before. The comfort my cat offered when fear, isolation and despair were the only other visitors was necessary, crucial in fact.

In many cases, our cats saved us.

Even now we cannot hug people when we see them. Elbow bumping isn’t the same. We shouldn’t underestimate the physical comfort that we all need. We all needed physical reassurance and our cats were able to give that to us, as they cuddled us or sat on our laps. No two meter rule for them.

Many people have written to me about this;  how their cat seemed to sense the fact they were needed and were more affectionate that normal during this time.

My cat, Lady A, definitely was. Normally only willing to give me affection at feeding time, she actually really took care of me and my son.

Our cats provided safe affection when we needed it most. When the world seemed scary, they were there for us, and it’s indisputable that they helped greatly with mental health. The number of people I have spoken to who said that without their pets they would have gone insane should not be underestimated. And I agree. The power of pets should never be underestimated; even without the pandemic.

When our routines were in tatters, having a pet to take care of gave purpose and a structure to the day. And, there is nothing crazy about talking to your pet, I do it all the time. My cat is one of my greatest confidants! And she is a very good listener.

They were also invaluable for our children, at a time when all they knew as normal was turned on its head. They helped children make sense of things at a time when very little did. My son became closer to our cat, as if her constant presence reassured him and being able to cuddle her when he was unable to see his Grandma calmed him when he was at his most upset. My cat, who normally isn’t that affectionate with my son almost became the Mary Poppins of the cat world!

There was a wider role for them within our communities as well. Community is something I feel strongly about when I write about Alfie the Doorstep Cat. People enjoy seeing the cats - who mainly still enjoyed their freedom out and about and a cat in a street near me became quite the celebrity when he would sit in the window, seeming to greet those who passed by. Seeing him when people were out for their (once a day), cheered people up no end and became a talking point when we were fed up to speaking only about the virus. My neighbours all asked if I had seen him and actually I made a point of doing so.

When lockdown happened and we all felt as if our world changed so drastically, our cats were there, purring away, offering comfort, companionship and love, and it was just what was needed. Lockdown would have been a lot tougher without our beloved pets and I know that most of you reading this will agree. What we need to remember when life goes back to normal and I strongly believe it will, is the role that our furry friends played and ensure they are rewarded richly for all they did for us.

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Of course the NHS and all key workers who kept us going during our period of staying home and staying safe deserved  all the applause and so much more. But maybe there should have also been a Clap for Cats. I for one would have applauded.

'Alfie The Christmas Cat' by Rachel Wells

Christmas is around the corner, and Alfie and George can’t wait. This year, the residents of Edgar road have come together to put on a festive show and raise money for a local homeless shelter.

As December approaches, plans are in full swing: auditions are being held, props are being built, Alfie and George are rehearsing daily, and everyone is having a very merry time.

But then things start to go wrong. And when the residents arrive at the theatre one morning to discover their set has been trashed, it becomes clear someone is trying to sabotage their performance.

Alfie and George know it’s up to them to find the culprit and save the day. Because, after all, the show must go on…

Published in all formats on November 12, 2020.

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