The Top Ten Reasons Why Being Owned By A Cat Is Good For Your Health!
Are you a cat lover? Most people have strong feelings on the subject of cats – they either really love cats or they really dislike them.
But that’s alright because probably only those who do enjoy cats (including big wild cats) will be reading this post!
Social media has spawned a daily supply of cat memes, cat jokes and cute cat videos so there must be a huge demand for these.
But have you ever thought that a cat comes with health benefits?
Here are our top ten…
- They can reduce stress and anxiety. Did you know that having a cat around can trigger the release of calming chemicals in our body, leading to decreased stress and anxiety levels. Just a cuddle and a stroking session will do the trick – and distract you from other things on your mind. Most cats are great company, and will happily sit on your lap for hours purring loudly. At the same time, we can learn from cats how when they are sleeping, they are perfectly relaxed. They know how to do it. Their brains have been switched off, their bodies are free of tension and they have gone into peaceful, sleep mode.
- Help with grief. Having a cat can trigger the release of oxytocin. This is the hormone known for bringing on feelings of love and trust which can help at difficult times (such as during grief) when pet owners will often find it easier to talk to their cat rather than a human. It has been found that cats can help people get over their loss more quickly and reduce the physical symptoms of pain, including being tearful. Cats can provide social support during difficult times.
- Decrease the chance of having a stroke: Cat owners are less likely to be at risk from a stroke than the owners of other types of pet. Scientists speculate this is also because of a cat’s low-maintenance ownership.
- Therapeutic benefits: People of all ages can find that cats act as a form of therapy. For example, research has found that children with autism were more likely to be less anxious and calm while petting a cat. Generally speaking, cats induce the “feel good” factor in us. I have a friend in London who has a beautiful white fluffy cat who is a therapy cat called Daisy May. She is taken to visit children, the elderly and anyone else who is in need.
- Boost immunity: While those who are genuinely allergic to cats are probably best to avoid having them in the home, regular exposure to pet dander and fur can increase resistance to allergens, decreasing the risk of other allergies and asthma.
- Suffering from high blood pressure? Having a pet cat could be helpful because research has found that cat owners are known to have lower blood pressure than non-cat owners, because of the calming presence that cats provide. Of course, this can also decrease the risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
- Lower triglycerides and cholesterol levels: If the levels are high, these can contribute to heart disease and are symptomatic of type 2 diabetes as well as strokes, liver and kidney disease. Naturally, reductions in these levels lead to a decreased risk of these diseases.
- Increase sociability: Cat ownership can mean increased friendship, with cats being a natural conversation starter and can enhance the owner’s ability to socialize. It has even been suggested that women are more attracted to men who own cats because cat ownership can indicate the gifts of sensitivity and intelligence!
- Reduce loneliness. Many people live on their own and, particularly as they grow older, having a cat can greatly reduce the feeling of being lonely in spite of cats having a reputation of being independent. This is because the bond between a cat and its owner reinforces companionship.
- Help with insomnia. Some (especially women) often enjoying sleeping with their cat, sometimes finding that they sleep more soundly. They are warm and reassuring with their purring, even keeping your feet warm if they lay on them. In addition, they have finely honed hearing and other senses so they can act as a built-in safety alarm. A sudden pricking of ears and turning of their head or standing up, you might want to check that all is well with your surroundings.
A cat will never forget!
Something to bear in mind is that cats will remember kindness shown to them and return the favor later.
But cats do have their drawbacks
After thousands of years of domestication, cats have learned how to make a half purr/half howling type of sound which can remind their owners of a human baby’s cry. Our brains are programmed to respond to such a baby’s cry so we find it difficult to ignore a cat’s demands!
Remember that young kittens can be very destructive. They love to tear around a room, climb curtains and scratch the furniture. It is not unusual for a kitten to cause as much, if not more, damage than a puppy!
The cat parasite Toxoplasma gondii is a threat to young children. However, good hygiene habits where a cat’s litter box is changed every day (and keeping the cat indoors) helps to minimize any risk.
Cats can pick up fleas but treatment to prevent this is not difficult. This site will help you with lots of natural home remedies including suggestions using apple cider vinegar and diatomaceous earth. Cats are particularly clean and fastidious pets and will always engage in regular self-cleaning and grooming.
While we are more than happy for cats to be good at catching mice and other rodents (as long as they refrain from bringing them indoors as gifts for us) we are very unhappy if they catch birds. There is a very real threat to wildlife from those cats who are free to roam outdoors day and night. While it might help to put on a collar (with a bell attached) to try and lessen your cat’s hunting chances, sadly it is the cat’s natural instinct to be a predator.
If you do decide to have a cat who owns you, please seriously consider adopting one from your local shelter – and don’t forget to spay or neuter!