April McGowan

Stress Cat

Stress CatOur kitty, Jack, has an autoimmune blood disease.  If you know us, then you know this is nothing unusual in our family—in fact the irony takes on special meaning.  The words “autoimmune disease” were once foreign to us—but there are so many things that fall into that category, it’s just ridiculous.  Our family is affected, especially by one—Celiac disease.  A second one (and not the last) was introduced in our kitty, Jack.  Immune-mediated hemolytic anemia or IMHA.  He was born with it, but it kicked in big time when he got a distemper shot in December.  His immune system attacked his blood cells and he nearly died.  We were told to keep him ‘calm’ and not ‘stress him.’  Jack is NOT a low stress cat.  EVER.

Recently we had a lovely visit from family.  This part of our family has a sweet dog, but he wouldn’t mix with Jack at all—so we locked the cats safely in the back room with their kitty box, water, and food for periods at time.  Even though we did this to decrease Jack’s stress, it seemed to drain his system to break his routine like this.  His symptoms (ears, nose and gums turn white from a lack of red blood cells, extreme fatigue) kicked up and we almost had to visit the vet.  We’ve babied him for several days now, and his symptoms improved.  His nose and gums grow pinker every day and he’s back to his feisty self.

When someone says they are ‘stressed’ we often think they are going through a hard time.  And I think that we equate that in our own lives as well—but it’s often not true.  Good things, busy things, can cause us stress just as much as bad things.  But if we feel stress about doing ‘good’ things we tend to feel guilty.  Those things are good, and we should be enjoying doing them, not feeling worn out!  Things like helping others, attending social events, and outreach opportunities.  If you do too much, though, even good things can stress you out.  And if your body is already taxed because of illness or other circumstances, then you get a double whammy.

If there’s been a theme for us in the past two years, it’s thus: take each day as it comes (don’t worry!), know our limits and don’t over commit.  When I watch Jack, I’m reminded that even a break in our routine can stress us out.  I need to pray about our commitments, paying attention to my limits, and my family’s limits and ask for the Lord’s leading.  If I’m paying attention to His direction, then even when bad stress comes, I’ll be in better shape to handle it.

1 Peter 5: 6-11  Humble yourselves therefore under God’s mighty hand, that he might lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.  And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To him be the power for ever and ever.  Amen.


  1. Billie Jo Robbins
    Jun 13, 2010

    I have found this true in my life as well April…seems like any activity that is out of the ordinary, or for me..outside of my home..puts stress on my body. I pray for the Lords perfect wisdom for your family.

  2. Patricia
    Jun 22, 2010

    Thank you for sharing this! I’ve learned the hard way that stress will stop you in your tracks.
    God Bless You!

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