BY EDIE JARDIEU
Scientists studying the human-animal bond have discovered there are health benefits of owning a cat. Yes, even that belittled “black cat” can be good for you!
1. Help your cardiovascular system
Studies at the University of Minnesota determined those who did not own cats were 30-40% more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than cat owners were. (Sorry, dog owners, you don’t see the same benefit.) The chance of death from sudden heart attack is reduced, too, for cat owners. A study funded by the NIH determined that pet owners were more likely than non-owners to survive a heart attack, regardless of the severity of that attack.
Other research suggests that owning a cat compares favorably with going on a low-salt diet for reducing heart disease risk.
2. Help your immune system
The immune system gets a boost from the feeling you get just by owning a cat. Owning a cat may lead to improved social support, reduced depression, and more laughter, play and exercise – all of these help your immune system function better.
And cats can tell when you’re not feeling well. They help you get better by coming to comfort you.
3. Avoid allergies and respiratory problems
Children who are raised around cats (and dogs) develop immunity to allergens at an early age. The incidence of respiratory problems, including asthma, is reduced in children exposed to cats early in their lives.
As a bonus, children raised with pets appear to develop greater empathy for the feelings of others and relate better to other people.
4. Lower your blood pressure
Petting your cat is calming and reduces your blood pressure. Studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo found lower blood pressure in the study subjects who owned pets compared with those who did not.
5. Lower your cholesterol and triglycerides
Diet and exercise go a long way toward reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels, but owning a cat helps, too. A 2006 Canadian study found owning a cat lowered cholesterol better than even some medications.
6. Reduce your stroke risk
A University of Minnesota study determined cat ownership can reduce your stroke risk by up to one-third!
7. Heal your bones and muscles
Cats purr at a frequency between 20-140 Hz, which is known to have therapeutic effects. Bones heal best at 25 Hz and 50 Hz frequencies (and 100 Hz and 200 Hz are also helpful). Soft tissues like muscles, tendons and ligaments heal faster at these frequencies. And infections and swelling are also healed in this frequency range.
8. Reduce anxiety and stress
In today’s fast-paced lifestyle, with more work and less socializing, interacting with a pet brings play-time and creativity back into your life. Caring for your cat and cuddling with your cat take your mind off your own worries and reduce your levels of anxiety and stress.
9. Improve your mood, relieve depression
Cats may have the reputation of being solitary, unsocial animals but cat owners know this is not the case. The love and companionship of a cat helps you feel better about life in general and can lift your mood and lessen feelings of depression.
10. Reduce loneliness
Having a person-cat connection is a form of social interaction. If your group of friends is small, or far away, your cat can help relieve your feelings of loneliness. If you come home to an empty house at the end of the day, spending time with your cat can uplift your mood.
Families today are smaller and often far apart. Empty-nesters fulfill the need to nurture and find a reason to get up in the morning by owning a cat. The social support provided by your pet may encourage you to interact more with other people.
11. Therapy pets reduce medical expenses
People who own cats make fewer doctor and hospital visits. When they do visit the hospital, they are discharged earlier. Overall, their medical expenses are reduced.
Therapy dogs are fairly common in nursing homes and special-needs schools, but there are therapy cats, too. Cats know who needs a good purring!
Cats don’t need as much exercise as dogs, but they still love to play. Make your cat your exercise buddy and help him bat a toy mouse around! Watch your cat and learn how to stretch! Observe how many times your cat stretches – and when he does it – and join in!
The “pet effect” can improve your quality of life. Cats may not be able to confer their “9 lives” onto their owners, but you can improve the one life you do have by sharing it with a cat!