Health Benefits of Cat Ownership
You love your cats for the companionship that they provide. A sympathetic ear, great listening skills, and boundless affection are all great side benefits of cat ownership, but your cat may actually be doing more for you than you think. Recent studies have shown that keeping pets has a positive impact on your health and well being, especially when that pet is a cat.
General Health Benefits
Studies have proven that having contact with a pet is very calming and soothing, and have backed up this conjecture with medical facts. Vital signs taken after an individual’s interaction with a pet show positive effects on the blood pressure, pulse, and breathing frequency, and the results of these tests are surprisingly similar to the body’s condition after deep meditation. Some studies have even indicated that having pets reduces stress and results in a lowered risk of heart disease.
Cats and dogs – but especially cats – have been used in some hospitals and nursing homes as a kind of therapy for the bedridden and ill. The warmth of their furry bodies and open, purring friendship can drastically influence a person’s state of mind for the better. A study conducted in the states of New York, Missouri, and Texas found that nursing homes that allowed pets had lower medication costs than those that didn’t.
Lowered stress and increased calmness could be the cause, but studies over the last twenty years have also shown that people who own pets are much healthier than their non-pet owning counterparts; they are often less-prone to minor illnesses like colds and influenza, score better on psychological tests, and claim to feel a greater sense of well-being.
Children and Cats
Adults are not the only ones who benefit from caring for a cat. Children who have participated in the raising of a pet have shown higher self esteem levels, better social skills, and a greater sense of responsibility toward others. For young children and infants, exposure to cats at a young age can also help the child develop resistance to allergens and asthma.
Seniors and Cats
Older adults often lack companionship, social connections and opportunities for recreation during their retirement years. Owning a cat can significantly boost the health and happiness of a senior, giving them a feeling of purpose and the knowledge that they are needed.
Cats are ideal pets for seniors as they are relatively low-maintenance in comparison to dogs. They don’t need formal exercise like regular walks, or constant trips to the backyard, since they take care of their own exercise routine during play and confine their bathroom habits to a single area.
Cat ownership has been shown to improve the general health and well-being of men with HIV, reduce the loneliness of single women living by themselves, and even help victims of heart disease recover more quickly after a heart attack. Next time you’re cuddling with your cat on the couch, tossing that rubber ball across the linoleum for the sixty-third time, or even cleaning a hairball off the rug, remember that your cat might be doing a lot more for you than you think.