Can Cats Improve Your Mental Wellbeing?
It’s World Mental Health Day on 10th October – an annual event that seeks to raise awareness of mental health and how it can be improved. Many cat owners know that having a cat really lifts their mood and can improve mental wellbeing by providing companionship and having something to stroke, cuddle and care for.
This is backed up by research[i] earlier this year published in BMC Psychiatry which suggests that cats (and dogs) kept as pets could be improving people’s mental health and might also contribute to the management of long-term mental health conditions.
A few years ago the Mental Health Foundation[ii] also carried out some research with the charity, Cats Protection with over 600 cat and non-cat owning respondents, with half describing themselves as currently having a mental health problem.
They found that 87% of people who owned a cat felt it had a positive impact on their wellbeing, while 76% said they could cope with everyday life much better thanks to the company of their feline friends.
Half of cat owners also felt that their cat’s presence and companionship was most helpful, followed by a third of respondents who described stroking a cat as a calming and helpful activity.
Spending time with pets has also been found to lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in bodies.[iii] In fact, non-pet owners are four times more likely to be diagnosed with clinical depression than pet owners.[iv]
Even a cat purr is known to be medically therapeutic for illnesses in humans[v], not only lowering stress and anxiety, but reducing blood pressure, helping to heal infections and even healing bones.
Cats are also increasingly being used as therapy animals. Charity, Pets as Therapy[vi] has over 100 cats registered and visit venues across the UK such as hospitals, nursing and care homes and special needs schools, helping to enhance health and wellbeing.
However, you don’t have to be a cat owner to benefit from spending time with cats. Becoming a homesitter can give you all the advantages of pet ownership, such as companionship and spending time with them, without the commitment of owning one.
Looking after pets is one of the main reasons many of our homesitters choose to do the role. When we asked our homesitters what they enjoyed most about the job, an overwhelming 72% said that looking after people’s pets was the biggest perk.
One homesitter describes the role as a “cat lovers dream”. Ellen Hart a sixty five year old former orthopaedic nurse from Berkshire has been home and pet sitting since she retired three years ago.
Her first assignment involved looking after a labradoodle puppy, a dog, a cat, five bantam hens, a cockerel and a rabbit – it was a great success and she hasn’t looked back since.
Raised on a farm, Ellen has had plenty of experience looking after animals. She had pet cats and dogs as a child and also enjoyed horse riding. However, she describes herself as ‘a cat person’.
Discussing why home and pet sitting appeals, Ellen says, “I wanted to do something useful and interesting when I retired. Since becoming a homesitter I have stayed in gorgeous properties ranging from beautiful townhouses to characterful thatched cottages and met some lovely people.
“Looking after cats is my favourite thing though. I love making sure they are happy and we have great fun together. A real highlight is going back to repeat clients as it’s like a home from home, you know where everything is and the animals are so happy to see you again,” adds Ellen.
If you want to boost your mental wellbeing and would enjoy spending more time with cats why not give home and pet sitting a try? Homesitters Ltd are currently recruiting, if you’d like to find out more about home and pet sitting visit.
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