Friday, 25 October 2019

More Than Just a Black Cat: Charismatic Lucy helps owner Phil with his mental health

In 2018, black-and-white cat Tasha was finally offered a forever home after spending a year in the care of Cats Protection’s Gateshead & Newcastle Branch.

In return, the three-year-old moggy has enriched the life of her new owner Phil Sherry, by helping him with his mental health struggles.

man wearing glasses with black and white cat sat in a basket behind him

Phil, a 48-year-old web developer from Gosforth in Newcastle upon Tyne said: “I’ve always been a cat fan, but hadn’t been able to live with any for the last five years, due to landlord restrictions.

“Coincidentally, my mental health had gone downhill a lot during those five years, so I decided I had to tackle the problem.

black and white cat

“I did my research and discovered Emotional Support Animals were a recognised thing, and asked my GP for help. He wrote a letter to my landlord and the landlord agreed to let me have one feline housemate. Result!”

With permission granted for Phil to welcome a cat into his life, it was in fact sheer luck that brought him and his new feline friend together.

black and cat lying on the floor with paws in the air

“I was getting a lift to an event I was speaking at and my talk had lots of cats in it as visual metaphors, so I was thinking about cats,” said Phil.

“Next thing I knew, we were driving past the Cats Protection logo on a newish looking building. I had no idea it was there, but I made a note to look it up when I got home. I read through the descriptions of each cat, saw she’d been on the bench for a year, and that was that  rescued.”

black and white cat clinging to the letterbox in the door

Tasha, who Phil has renamed Lucy Fur, a play on words from a song by one of his favourite heavy metal bands, soon settled into her new home and has made a big difference to his mental health.

Phil explained: “I’m very happy with my own company. That is, I don’t need the constant company of other humans in my life. I’m often in too much pain to even get out of bed, never mind leave the house to meet people. That doesn’t mean I don’t get lonely though, which is where Lucy enters the story.

black and white cat lying in basket with paws in the air

"She can sense when I’m extra ill and her behaviour changes; she’s far more present and cuddly, less zoomy and playful. Then there are the head butts. Cat head butts are power-ups, they instantly boost my energy and enhance my life.

“Lucy is more than just a cat, she’s my mental-health coach.” 

*An update from Phil and Lucy Fur - 19 June 2020*

During the COVID-19 lockdown, Phil has been working on online responses to the pandemic for large organisations, and Lucy Fur has been helping him cope with the increased work pressure as well as the loneliness of lockdown. 

black-and-white cat in the foreground of a man's selfie

"I’ve been working flat out since the lockdown, and in such unusual circumstances I’ve needed Lucy more than ever," said Phil. "She makes sure I take a break, and helps keep some routine going in my life. Just having her around, going about her business and keeping me company is hugely beneficial to my mental health.”

This Loneliness Awareness Week (15-19 June 2020), The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cats, supported by Cats Protection and other animal welfare charities, has released a report called 'Cats as Companions: Can Cats Help Tackle Loneliness?' The report identifies that cat ownership and interaction is one of a number of measures with the potential to tackle loneliness across all age groups in specific social situations. To find our more, take a look at our blog post here

Let us know what your monochrome moggy means to you with #MoreThanJustABlackCat and discover more heartwarming stories at

If you have a cat of another colour, we don't want you to feel left out. Get involved with #MoreThanJustACat to share your story! 

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