When something is good for us or makes us feel good we tend to know it instinctively, like owning a cat or eating chocolate. OK, eating chocolate may not be entirely good for us but you can see where I’m coming from. What makes us feel even better is finding out that the thing that makes us feel good is proven to be beneficial for us by science, and science has agreed that having a cat is good for our overall well-being.
It’s not just about the warm fuzzy feeling you get from petting purring cat. In fact, most people aren’t aware of just how beneficial being a cat owner is to our physical and mental health. For example, having a cat can improve a person’s survival after having had a heart attack! Bet you weren’t expecting that one. Owning a furry feline can make a big difference in our lives.
Let’s take a look at how these purring little four-legged ankle rubbers do for their two-legged owners.
1. Heart Health
If a global pharmaceutical company came up with a new drug that would give us a 30% less chance of dying from a heart attack, it would be huge news. It would also make the company who created it billions.
What if I told you that “drug” already existed, and you not only wouldn’t have to pay loads for it, but you wouldn’t need a prescription to get it. That miracle cure is cats.
Data has been analyzed by the University of Minnesota proving that people who owned cats were 30% to 30% less likely to die from a heart attack. This was in comparison to a similar group of individuals who were not cat owners. Even more astounding was that, of those people who have already had a heart attack and survived, 28% of those who did not own a cat died in under a years’ time. However, of those who had pets and suffered a heart attack, only 3% died within a 12-month period.
2. Stroke A Cat, Lessen A Stroke
Another benefit of having a cat is that it can reduce the risk of having a stroke. This is because soothing and petting a cat can reduce your blood pressure. A study was done with a group of people to test this theory. They had their blood pressure taken while doing a task that is considered stressful, such as public speaking. They then repeated the same task, but this time in the presence of their cat. The results showed, despite the person being under stress, having the cat ‘s company kept their blood pressure at a normal rate.
There’s more to this though! Stroking a cat also lowers a person’s blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, both of which have been recognized as contributors to strokes and cardiovascular disease.
3. Feline Calm
Another health benefit of having a feline buddy is that they help to reduce stress. Another scientific test measured cortisol and adrenaline, as well as other levels of stress hormones between cat owners and non-cat owners, and they found that these were markedly lower in those who had cats.
Having a cat works as a distraction from all of the pressures and stresses of the outside world. Your furry friend may give you funny looks, but they are great listeners and they won’t ever pass judgment on you, making them wonderful to chat to. Doing so has been linked to a reduction of incidents with addictive behavior, mental health problems, and suicide in cat owners.
4. Nap Time
Cats are the experts in the realm of napping and they can teach us a thing or two about our sleeping habits. A study was done at the Mayo Clinic for Sleep Medicine to determine once and for all whether or not having a pet in our bedroom was a positive or negative thing.
Their findings showed that 41% of the group felt they slept better with having their pet’s presence in the room. Half of that number felt having their pet in the room disturbed their sleep. The theory here is that it’s the sense of security and companionship that the presence of our pets brings that allows us to relax more and sleep better.
In fact, having our pet where we can see them helps to release oxytocin, which is a love hormone, and the same that a nursing mother gives when she sees her baby. This means having our cat close by can raise our levels of contentment and happiness.
5. Allergy Relief
Now, some of you may be scratching your heads with this one, because some people are allergic to cats. Well, there is such a thing as being too clean for your health. With today’s high standard of hygiene and modern chemicals and disinfectants, we are less exposed to bugs that would normally stimulate our immune system. This leaves our immune system under worked due to it not being “challenged” enough. In a developing child, this means that the immune system looks for something else to protect us from and as such, allergies are born!
Having a pet in the home, however, can change this. Cat dander, which isn’t unhealthy, can give our immune system that workout it needs to grow stronger. This means it doesn’t have as much time to focus on allergic reactions, which includes those that can trigger asthma.
In fact, a statement was issued by the National Institute of Health stating that children under the age of 1, who spent time around a cat, were not as likely to develop common allergies like hay fever, or from dust mites and pollen. However, it should be noted that a child who already has developed allergies would not see the benefits of having a cat in their presence.
By nature, cats are solitary animals. They do however have sociable tendencies, and they can really help those who live on their own or who feel isolated. Having a cat companion goes a long way to compensate for the absence of having a human companion. It also lowers the feeling of isolation one can feel. Having a cat is also a great icebreaker in social situations, especially when you meet other cat owners. It creates a sense of bonding.
Did you know that men who own cats are more attractive to women than those who don’t own a cat? Women are more drawn to the feline traits of sensitivity and intelligence that having a cat can give.
7. Feline Intelligence
Do you still need a reason to become a cat owner? Studies have shown that more cat owners hold a college degree than dog owners, which means a higher percentage of those who own cats are “more intelligent”. So, having a cat gives you some bragging rights too.
It’s not feline intelligence that is rubbing off on their owners making them smarter though. It’s actually the other way around. College graduates are busy making a living to pay off all of those student loans that having an independent pet, such as a cat, makes a better option than a pet who needs more attention and maintenance, such as a dog that needs to be walked regularly.
On a final upbeat note, it’s said that people who own cats take fewer trips to see their doctor every year than those who don’t own cats. What could be a better reason to become the owner of a purr-fect feline companion?