20 Ways Cats Make You Happier and Healthier
Your cat is your faithful friend and companion – he keeps you company at home and provides you with an endless source of amusement. But cats are so much more than just pets! In fact, having a cat can actually benefit your health and wellness – keep reading to learn how.
1. They may help you deal with anxiety.
Various anxiety disorders affect more than 40 million adults, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Though some cases need to be managed with medications and/or psychotherapy, numerous studies have shown that having a cat can actually decrease stress and anxiety. Owning a cat can trigger the release of neurotransmitters, or calming chemicals in the brain, helping you to de-stress. In fact, spending just a few minutes petting your cat could resolve your anxiety.
2. They help you recover more quickly from a loss.
Losing a loved one is never easy, but having a cat can help you to cope with the loss. Cats offer social support to their owners in times of stress or sadness and cat owners have been seen to show fewer physical signs of pain, such as crying, than non-cat-owners. If you are going through a difficult time and you just need someone to talk to, your cat will lend a listening ear.
3. They might prevent you from having a stroke.
Every year nearly 800,000 people suffer a stroke and more than 140,000 people die from it. Owning a cat can decrease your risk for having a stroke, possibly due to the fact that they are a low-maintenance pet. You don’t have to walk your cat once or twice a day and he will be perfectly content to amuse himself if you aren’t around.
4. They can help you get a date.
You’ve probably heard about men who use a puppy as a means of attracting women, but a British poll recently discovered that women are more attracted to men who like animals, regardless the type. In fact, 90% of women surveyed said that men who own a cat seem to be nicer than other men. So throw a picture of your cat onto your online dating profile and see what happens!
5. They can boost your immunity.
Unless you have a cat allergy, owning a cat could actually help you to strengthen your immune system. It seems that continuous exposure to pet dander and fur in individuals who don’t have allergies can boost your body’s resistance to developing allergies and asthma. So, spend some quality time with your cat and breathe easy!
6. They provide judgment-free companionship.
Sometimes you just need someone to keep you company – someone who won’t judge you or criticize you. Although cats can sometimes be jerks themselves, they are great company when you need it. In fact, a 2003 study conducted in Austria showed that having a cat in your household can be the emotional equivalent of having a romantic partner. And your cat won’t leave dirty dishes in the sink!
7. They may reduce your risk for heart disease.
Cardiovascular disease is the number-1 killer in the United States but owning a cat might protect you. A study conducted by the University of Minnesota showed that people who didn’t own cats had a 30% to 40% higher risk for dying of cardiovascular disease than people who owned cats. Owning a cat may also reduce your risk for heart attack.
8. They can help you to sleep more soundly.
Numerous UK studies have shown that people (particularly women) tend to prefer sleeping with their cat than with their romantic partners. A study conducted by the Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine confirms this, showing that 41% of people report sleeping better because of their pet, compared to just 20% who reported a pet causing sleep disturbances.
9. They can reduce your blood pressure and cholesterol.
In addition to reducing your risk for heart disease in general, owning a cat may also be beneficial for your blood pressure. Simply spending time with your cat can help you to relax and petting your cat may actually calm you down enough to lower your blood pressure. Studies have also shown that owning a cat may help you lower your cholesterol as well as your blood triglyceride levels. In fact, a 2006 study conducted in Canada revealed that owning a cat was more effective in reducing cholesterol than taking cholesterol-lowering medications.
10. They might prevent you from developing allergies.
While getting a cat probably isn’t a good idea if you are already allergic to cats, studies show that children under the age of 1 who were exposed to cats were less likely to develop allergies as they got older. And it wasn’t just pet allergies! Chief of the allergic mechanisms section at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Marshall Plaut, M.D., exposure to pets early in life seems to not only protect against pet allergies, but also against more common forms of allergies such as ragweed, dust mites, and pollen. Just be sure to clean the litterbox every day because children can be harmed by the cat parasite Toxoplasma gondii.
11. They can help you with depression.
Not only can a cat help you to reduce stress and anxiety, but owning a cat has actually been shown to relieve depression. Getting a cat may not cure you from depression since it is a diagnosable medical condition, but your cat might help to distract you from your worries and boost your mood. If you are having a particularly rough day, your cat can also calm and comfort you.
12. They might one day save your life.
Many people think of cats as being aloof, but in reality, they are very tuned-in to the lives of their humans and they have been known to step in during an emergency. There are numerous stories of cats waking their owners during a fire or a gas leak – cats have even been used as service animals by the armed forces.
13. They can help you feel less lonely.
Even if your cat isn’t the type to cuddle or follow you around the house, simply having a cat can relieve feelings of loneliness. Studies have also shown that owning a cat in early childhood can help children learn to empathize and connect with other people.
14. They might extend your lifespan.
Having a cat can benefit your health in a number of ways and all of those things combined may lead to a longer lifespan. Reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels will reduce your risk for heart attack and stroke, while the companionship of a cat can benefit your mental health. Plus, owning a cat gives meaning to your life that you might not experience otherwise!
15. They help you to reduce your carbon footprint.
If you’re concerned about your impact on the environment, get a cat instead of a dog! A 2009 study showed that over the lifetime of a dog, the resources required make the same carbon footprint as a Hummer. Not only do cats eat less, but they are more likely to eat fish than commercially raised livestock – a cat’s carbon footprint is similar to that of a Volkswagen Golf.
16. They may make you smarter.
It is undetermined whether having a cat can actually improve your intelligence, but numerous studies have shown that people who own cats are more intelligent than people who own dogs. Furthermore, people who own cats are more likely to have a college degree than people who own dogs.
17. They teach you to let the little things go.
Cats are known for their curiosity but, more than that, for their persistence. No matter how many times your cat fails to make the jump from the counter to the kitchen table, he will keep on trying. You can learn a lesson from your cat by believing in yourself and by pushing yourself to do more – reach for your goals, always believing you can achieve them!
18. They can reduce your stress levels.
Scientists aren’t entirely sure why cats purr or where the sound actually comes from, but purring has been shown to provide stress-reducing benefits for people. When a cat purrs, he creates vibrations between 20 and 140 Hertz, a frequency that has been shown to be medically beneficial for a variety of health problems. The next time you feel stressed, give your cat a cuddle!
19. They offer you the best medicine – laughter.
Though cats can sometimes be serious, they are all really just goofballs at heart. All it takes is a laser pointer or a ball of yarn to turn your serious cat into a playful kitten. The more you play with your cat, the more you will laugh and laughter has been shown to provide significant health benefits.
20. They can help keep you out of the hospital.
You’ve already learned about some of the specific ways cat ownership can benefit your health, but studies have also shown that people who own a cat have fewer healthcare visits than those who do not. Studies have also shown that nursing homes that allow their residents to keep cats, or those that use cats as therapy animals, have lower medication costs than facilities that do not.
Owning a cat might not cure cancer or resolve all of your medical problems, but it is certain a step in the right direction. The next time you’re having a bad day or you feel a cold coming on, grab your cat and cuddle up – you might be surprised at how quickly you start to feel better!