Just What The Doctor Ordered: The Health Benefits Of Cats
Having a cat in your life can do much more than just provide you with a fun and cuddly companion; it can actually do wonders for your overall health. Science is proving that cats can have a profound effect upon the wellbeing of their owners. Here are just a few of the health benefits of cats that come from having a feline in your family.
Less Stress, Depression, and Anxiety
Coming home to an adorable and loving kitty is definitely a surefire way to help you eliminate some of the stress you deal with on a daily basis. Cats help you focus your mind on the present moment and relax, which can help ease your anxiety. And people who are going through difficult times will find that companionship from their kitties reduces their loneliness. Pets, in general, can also help you improve your mood by taking your mind off of your troubles and allowing you to focus your energy on nurturing other creatures, as well as watching their funny antics. Therefore, they can help individuals who suffer with depression as well.
Improved Cardiovascular Health
The University of Minnesota conducted a study that actually proves your kitty is great for your cardiovascular health. You can reduce your risk of dying from heart disease by 30 percent, as well as bring your risk of having a heart attack down by 40 percent, if you own a cat. And having a kitty by your side every day can even help you lower your triglycerides and your cholesterol, so you may be able to ditch that cholesterol-lowering medication if you spend more snuggle time with your feline friend. Plus, simply petting your cat can help you naturally lower your blood pressure, thanks to its relaxing effects. Of course, all of these benefits are even more apparent if you follow a healthy diet and lifestyle that includes regular exercise.
A Stronger Immune System
Cats can also promote a stronger immune system by making us laugh, reducing our stress levels, and providing us with comfort and companionship, especially when we are feeling under the weather. A child who has a cat as part of his or her family from a young age may also enjoy the benefits of a stronger immune system, with a lowered risk of having to deal with pet allergies. And children who grow up with cats may also have a lowered risk of asthma as they get older.
Related: How To Create A Cat-Friendly Home
Social Interaction for Those with Autism
In addition to helping the elderly, cats are also popular amongst individuals with autism who feel uncomfortable in social situations and have trouble expressing themselves. A French study found that mildly autistic adults and children benefitted from the hormone oxytocin, which lowers stress. Because oxytocin is released by touch, petting a cat can promote feelings of love and trust, as well as an increased ability to connect with others. In other words, simply having a cat that you can pet will help increase the amount of oxytocin that is released, and this can lead to feeling calmer and better able to socialize with others, whether you suffer with autism or any other form of social anxiety.
With so many great reasons to own a cat (or a few cats), the next step is to head to your local animal shelter and find the companion you can call your own. Saving a kitty’s life will empower you and make you feel great. Plus, you will reap the many health benefits of cats who will provide you with unconditional love, while also ensuring you never feel alone even when no one else is around.
Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. An advocate for better treatment of all animals, she enjoys producing content that educates others, helps them understand animals better, and inspires them to help, whether that means volunteering at a shelter, fostering strays, or simply giving their own pets a safe and happy home to live in.
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