Adopted Kitten Helps a Child with Depression

For a six-year-old boy, Kettle Claws brought laugher and joy back to his life.

Coen + Kettle Claws

When her six-year-old son was diagnosed with depression, a kitten named Kettle Claws brought love, laughter and hope.

"The kitten’s personality matches my son’s exactly when he is not in a depressed state: exuberant, playful, adventurous, active, curious."

Adopted Cat Kettle Claws

I didn’t know that a six-year-old even knew what suicide was, but one night last spring, my son curled into a ball on the floor of his bedroom, sobbing, and said that he didn’t want to be on earth anymore. He said he hated himself and believed the whole family would be happier if he didn’t exist. I’ve never before felt pain and fear like I did that night.

Adopted Cat Kettle Claws

We took him to a psychiatrist who diagnosed him with depression. They think it was brought on by two things that happened simultaneously: his teacher, who he loved, quit over spring break without telling anyone. When he got back to school she was gone, and a new teacher had rearranged the classroom. Everything was different. At the same time, his grandparents left for a three-month stay in Florida and he didn’t understand that they were going to come back. Usually he sees them every week.

These two losses, coupled with a genetic predisposition to depression (many members of my family, including myself, have been diagnosed with depression at some point in our lives) drove him over the edge and he had a breakdown.

Adopted Cat Kettle Claws

He has been seeing a therapist ever since the night he said he didn’t want to exist anymore, and he’s doing better. But the major turning point for him was when he went with me to Animal Humane Association of New Mexico and met a kitten he named “Kettle Claws.”

The kitten’s personality matches my son’s exactly when he is not in a depressed state: exuberant, playful, adventurous, active, curious. These traits in Kettle Claws have helped bring those traits back out in my son. His laughter when the kitten pounces on a toy car or chases him and a string down the hallway makes me want to weep because I genuinely didn’t know if he would be able to come out of the despair he felt.

Adopted Cat Kettle Claws

Things are getting better, in no small part due to the kitten our family has adopted. Kettle Claws meets my son at the door when we get home from school. He stands at the window to watch my son on the trampoline outside. The kitten even tries to steal food off his plate at dinner.

Depression in kids is a real thing, but so is the complete devotion to and love for a pet. Kettle Claws has helped to bring joy back into my son’s life, and I will be forever grateful.

Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Carson won Animal Humane Association of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico a 2019 Holiday Wishes award.