For a long time, Emily Hatton found everyday life difficult to navigate, but, thanks to black and white moggy Arthur, she’s finding her way.
Emily has suffered from severe mental health issues for the past 10 years. Extreme anxiety, depression, and a suicide attempt meant Emily spent many years hospitalised.
After years of intense therapy, Emily was finally discharged from hospital and placed in her own flat, meaning — for the first time in years — she was living alone. “I was finding it very hard,” says Emily, from Sandbach, Cheshire. “The loneliness was incredibly difficult to deal with. I had been surrounded by people for years; there was always someone around. From that to complete independence was scary and isolating.
“I had been away from society for a long time, with people making decisions for me and looking after me. I was a kid when I went into hospital and an adult when I came out. Suddenly, I was on my own and responsible for myself. It was almost too much freedom, and I was finding it incredibly hard to adjust. I felt such loneliness and sadness. I didn’t want to worry my family, so I was trying to navigate life alone and struggling.”
A LOVE OF CATS
Having always loved cats, a pet of her own was something Emily was certain she wanted. “Growing up, my family always had dogs and cats, and I had always been particularly fond of cats,” says Emily. “I knew, once I had a home of my own, I would want to give a cat a home, too. My family were concerned at first. I was still learning to care for myself, so they were worried I would struggle to care for another living being too, but they came around to the idea.”
With help from her sister, in September 2017 Emily began to prepare to welcome a cat into her life.
“I was in no rush; I wanted everything to be right. It had to be the right time and the right cat,” says Emily. “However, it turned out that my sister’s neighbour had a litter of kittens, and there was one left.
Meeting Arthur for the first time was a magical moment. He came straight over to me, and I felt an instant connection. It’s hard to describe, but there was something about him; something changed in me. I felt pure, genuine happiness.”
Arthur and Emily proved to be the perfect match and, after a day of shopping and getting everything Arthur could possibly need (and more), Emily was able to bring her new kitten home, which marked a significant turning point in her life.
“He settled instantly,” says Emily. “He curled up by my head that night to sleep and still does it now.
“From the day I brought him home, I have never felt lonely. He follows me around the flat and is always waiting at the door for me when I get home. Plus, when I have something on my mind, I feel I can talk it out with him.”
There was a time when it looked like Emily may never be able to live alone and lead a ‘normal’ life, but, thanks to Arthur, her confidence and happiness are growing, and she has lived independently for the longest period of her life — something she credits entirely to her friendly feline.
“Arthur has made it possible for me to live in the community. He’s there for me on my good and bad days. He knows me and what I need. He knows when I am tired, and when I’m in need of a cuddle,” says Emily.
“There were times when I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, but now I do. I want to make a great life for Arthur and I, and I am working hard at college to achieve that. He’s the reason I get up in the morning; he’s given me direction, encourages me to keep a routine, and doesn’t let me mope around. If he feels I have been sitting too long, he will fetch me his toys and encourage me to play with him.”
Not only has Arthur inspired and given Emily the confidence to build a life, but he has also helped her begin to make peace with her mental health issues, too.
“Arthur has made me realise I am capable of feeling positive emotions. I feel negative emotions so strongly, but, thanks to him, I know I can feel happiness just as strongly. I know if I feel sadness, I can also feel love. He’s created a balance in my life,” says Emily.
“There were times when I could have easily slipped back into old habits, but he’s saved me from that. Thanks to Arthur, I have confidence, motivation, and a more positive outlook; he has given me so much. I am doing things I never thought possible, including going to a gymnastics class, and it’s all thanks to him. I owe it to him to be the best I can be.”
MOST CARING CAT
Cheshire cat Arthur was awarded the Most Caring Cat award at Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards 2018 in August.
Emily says: “I am over the moon that Arthur won this award as he has really changed my life. I hope our story will help more people understand just how much cats can help people with mental health issues.”