Why Cats Are Good for Your Physical & Mental Health
7 minute read
Any cat lover will tell you, you don’t need a special day to hang out with your favorite furry buddy. In fact, every day you get to spend with your cat is a special day.
While we know nuzzling up with our cats makes us happy, did you know it’s actually good for your health? That’s right, cats give us more than a fluffy friend, they can treat some health issues for you too.
Why a Cat Is Good for You
National Cat Day may be in October, but being kind to your feline companion is a great idea all year long. After all, the health benefits they help provide aren’t limited to one day a year. Here is why cat ownership can be so advantageous to your health:
1. Cats Lower the Risk of Heart Disease
Published in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Neurology, the Cat Ownership and the Risk of Fatal Cardiovascular Diseases study looked at how cats could possibly reduce stress and blood pressure in humans that they share living quarters with.
In the end, they discovered that there was a decreased risk for death in the human roommates due to heart attack and all other cardiovascular diseases, including stroke.
2. They Help Heal Bones, Tendons, and Muscles
No one really knows exactly why cats purr. But what they do know is that there is a universal, consistent pattern and frequency of between 25 and 150 Hertz associated with purrs. Through further research, it’s been discovered that sound frequencies that lie in this frequency range can improve bone density and muscle atrophy.
While the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America posits that this purring and the affiliated sound waves created are a great internal healing mechanism for the cats, they do note that those same vibrational frequencies are used to help treat bones, muscles, pain, edema, flexibility, wounds, and more in people.
3. Can Help Experience Good Night’s Sleep
The benefits of sleep have been touted just about everywhere. To see its value, all you need to do is compare your energy levels on a day with poor sleep versus one with a deep, restful sleep.
The Mayo Clinic decided to take on the concept of pets in bed to see if they help you sleep or keep you awake. The results were a bit mixed, but definitely leaned in favor of sleeping with pets.
Forty-one percent of the people in the study found that snuggling up to a pet was soothing and made them feel secure, while 20% were not as positive about the experience. If you’re one of the people who enjoy having your pet around, then having your cat in bed at night can lead to a more restful sleep.
4. A Cat Can Help You Find a Date
This tip is mainly for men looking to attract women. And while it seems a little silly, it’s scientifically based, at least a little. Dr. June McNichols did some relationship research on behalf of Cat Protection and discovered through a survey that women were more attracted to men who like animals.
Going a step further, men who like cats are perceived as even better catches, with them being categorized as nicer and more caring. All good news for those cat-loving men out there.
5. Cats Combat Loneliness
The cat lady stereotype is not just myth—ask any of your friends who proudly wear this moniker. Loving and living with a cat can help alleviate feelings of loneliness, especially among single women, as discovered in a study on loneliness and pet ownership published in Psychological Reports.
6. They Relieve Stress and Boost Your Mood
Even simply watching a cat video can make you feel better. Cat videos seem to have taken over the world, or at least social media.
| Related: Why Social Media Use Can Cause Depression and Loneliness |
Moving beyond the entertainment factor, the emotional benefits of watching internet cats and the affiliated mood elevation moderates any guilt the watcher has over procrastinating during this activity. And that’s just watching cats online.
For increased benefits to your stress levels and mood, try spending more time cuddled with a cat. Direct interaction between pet owners and their furry friends has been proven to have great benefits that may be related to the activation of the oxytocin system, as found in a study on the effects of human-animal interactions and oxytocin published in Frontiers in Psychology.
7. Cats Can Help With Allergies
Children who are raised in households with two or more cats or dogs in their first year are less likely to develop allergies than those raised without.
The really exciting aspect of the study linking pet ownership to decreased allergies in children is that pet exposure seems to not only have a connection to decreased animal allergies, but also with other allergies such as dust mites, ragweed, and grass.
| Related: Food Allergy Treatments: DIY Natural Remedies and Tips |
This may mean that there’s a general shift of the entire immune system away from allergic responses. Early exposure is important for children, and is also why letting them play outside in the dirt can be a healthy activity.
The Bottom Line
Estimates suggest about 4 million cats enter shelters each year, with 1-2 million of those being euthanized. With all the health benefits cats provide, it’s hard to imagine not wanting one of these loving feline friends in your home.
If you can’t adopt or don’t want to, donations to your local shelter can help spare a life and give a cat a chance at finding their forever home. And if you do own a cat and don’t intend to breed, be sure to have them spayed or neutered to help fight overpopulation and ameliorate the burden on shelters.