Cats are one of the most popular household pets in the world, and it’s easy to see why. Not only are they cute and cuddly, but they also have a positive impact on our mental health. While the idea of owning a cat and the sense of responsibility that comes with it may seem daunting at first, it’s worth keeping in mind the many benefits that having a feline companion can bring.
Studies have shown that owning a cat can significantly improve our mental health and overall well-being. A 2015 study conducted in Australia surveyed 92 cat owners and 70 non-pet owners on factors like sleep, anxiety, depression, and psychological health. The results showed that cat owners had significantly higher scores for general psychological health than those who didn’t own cats.
Cats can also help lower stress and anxiety with the simple act of play. Playing with cats can help lower blood pressure and relax the nervous system. Moreover, the overall low maintenance of cats makes them an easier pet to care for and, thus, less stressful than other pets. Not only that but having your feline sleep with you can help provide a sense of comfort, leading to a better night’s sleep overall.
Owning any pet can help reduce loneliness, and cats can help provide companionship to those who would otherwise live alone. In a survey of 2,200 children aged 11-15, it was found that kids who formed tight bonds with their felines had an overall higher quality of life and felt more energetic and attentive at school. Dr. Lorna Whittemore, a veterinarian at ExcitedCats.com, agrees with these findings, saying, “cats are consistently in the top three favorite pets worldwide, for good reason. The close bond that many people have with their cats gives a mutually beneficial relationship. Care and safety for the cat, and companionship and well-being for the cat guardian.”
Apart from improving our mental health, there is evidence that cats can be good for our overall health as well. In a 13-year study involving almost 4,500 participants, cat owners were less likely to suffer from high blood pressure and cholesterol and had a lower BMI overall, which even lowered the risk of heart attacks. Another much smaller study from the University of Pennsylvania followed 24 new cat owners and surveyed them over the next 10 months. The participants showed a reduction in headaches, back pain, and colds.
One of the unique features of cats is their purr, which is considered medically therapeutic for humans. The purr is in the 20-140 Hz range, and it’s even been shown that this frequency assists in bone growth in cats. If this purring can heal bones, it’s not difficult to imagine what it can do for stress, anxiety, and other mental conditions in humans.
Cats are also being used as therapy animals, with a wide variety of patients and use cases. They can help people suffering from PTSD, dementia, and addiction, helping on both a mental and physical level. Cats are also being used for animal-assisted interventions, and light-hearted interactions with pets are scientifically shown to provide at least short-term relief from stress and anxiety. Recent surveys have suggested that cats can be just as helpful as dogs when it comes to such interventions. Interactions with cats provide emotional support and can reduce negative moods so much that they are almost comparable to a human companion.
In conclusion, owning a cat has many benefits for our mental and physical health. While there’s still a lot we don’t know about the relationship between humans and cats, there is certainly some evidence that felines can indeed help improve the mental health of their owners. If you’re considering getting a cat, go ahead and do it. The love and joy they bring into our lives are priceless.