So the cat is a very good indication of anxiety symptoms for me. If I'm not doing well, I'll start to worry about her. One night last summer I was up at dawn roaming the neighbourhood almost in tears because I was convinced that she wouldn't be coming back.
It was embarrassing.
It had NOTHING to do with the cat.
That's the time to start taking some medication - or maybe the day before that. But, anyhow, she's a good indicator of how I'm feeling. And as long as I can remember that I'm probably being a little over-reactive and ridiculous, I can use those reactions to guide my treatment. (Those and reactions to other things - like certain people or situations. It's interesting to try and see my world from an outside view and not through my emotions when I am off like that - because the emotions aren't real, so I have to have a gauge to judge them by).
Anyhow, cat liked to be outside all summer. She spent a majority of her time across the street and in the backyards of our neighbour's houses. She disappeared in the morning and most times would come back for supper only to disappear again into the great unknown of the across-the-street-cat-jungle she was calling home.
I didn't like it. But she's an outside cat and she is her own cat person and I don't think it's fair to keep her inside at this juncture. My last cat was an inside cat with a horrible sense of direction. I didn't feel so bad keeping her in because she couldn't find her way home. This current cat is a barn-cat/killer who loves to be outside. I can't justify keeping her in based on my psychosis.
Anyhow, it's cold now - there is snow and the cat has gotten into a much more comfortable routine form my point of view. She goes outside for a few minutes and then is there at the back door scratching to get in. I like this. I don't need to worry about her. I know where she is and she's safer. I don't have crazy moments that I have to recognize and deal with (well, at least not where she is concerned).
But there is at least one disadvantage:
It's hard to go up and down the basement stairs with a basket full of laundry ... no, she doesn't move once she's settled in. One day I'll end up in a heap at the bottom and will have to banish her from the stairs. But for now I'm just happy to know where she is.