Cats are good for us, both physically and emotionally. Before we list the 15 reasons (there’s probably lots more) why cats are good for us, let’s look at why cats help us be happier and healthier.
Here’s why. Cats improve our mood and activation the human prefrontal cortex and inferior frontal gyrus in the brain which release the feel-good hormones, releasing stress, anxiety, and depression.
Research is increasingly documenting the positive effects cats, dogs, and other companion animals have not only on their owners but on society in general. Because cats are relatively self-sufficient and low maintenance – to say anything about their snuggles and purrs, they have a step-up when it comes to their healing effect.
The information on this blog post is for informational/educational/entertainment purposes only.
Developing a strong relationship with our cat provides the companionship and unconditional love that helps lower:
- Isolation and loneliness
- Improve many other mental health conditions
- And the health issues that stem from these issues
Cats help us in three major ways.
- They give us Unconditional Love. They don’t care how you look, what you’re wearing or how much money you have. They love you for you.
- Felines are not judgmental. They don’t tell you that perhaps it would have been better if you had done things differently.
- Cats give you the responsibility of having something or someone you must take care of, without the stresses of children fighting back at you or the responsibility of aging parents.
And there’s more.
It is said while we humans rescue cats, the felines rescue us
Anecdotal evidence is now being backed up by science. Studies increasingly link better mental health and physical well-being to cats It should be no surprise there’s increasing evidence, they are helpful to our physical well-being as well.
Here, we are going to look at 15 reasons cats are good for us.
1) The cat gives us Unconditional Love
Cats don’t care what we look like. They don’t care about our status, our job, or our money. They love us for who and what we are, regardless of what that might be. There’s no bargaining for their attention.
2) Cats keep us focused on the now, rather than our problems
Living in the moment, also called mindfulness, keeps us focused on the now. If we are petting a cat, we focus on the cat. The fact is, we can only focus on one thing at a time. However, we can shift our focus from one thing to the next with astonishing speed.
Mindfulness is not new. It was first introduced hundreds of years ago and is a key element in Buddhism. According to the Foundation for a Mindful Society, it’s defined as being fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
Petting a cat or listening to them purr in our ear is an ideal way to stay in the moment.
We can learn from our cats. They are fully present in life, very aware of what’s going on around them, and typically, they appear to be peaceful and calm.
3) A cat’s purr has a healing effect
The sound of a cat’s purr has a frequency of 25-50 Hertz, like what can be gained from meditation. Studies have shown that people who are exposed to sound frequencies in the 20-50 Hertz range experience several health benefits including:
- Improved bone density
- Pain relief
- Healing of tendons and muscles
- A cat’s purr in this frequency also produces:
- Stress relief
- And reduced anxiety
It’s not just the sound of purring that’s important, but the vibration it produces.
Scientists have known for many years that vibrations at specific levels or frequencies cause healing changes in the body. These vibrations can induce bone growth and regeneration so that bone fractures heal faster and weakened bones begin to strengthen and rebuild. Higher frequency ranges increase the production of the body’s natural anti-inflammatory compounds, thereby reducing joint pain and swelling. Evidence suggests that these frequency ranges can repair muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Snuggling with our cat releases the feel-good hormones Oxytocin and Serotonin
Oxytocin is often referred to as the ‘love hormone ‘or the cuddle chemical. Hugging and cuddling are examples of behaviors that can release the feel-good hormone. Petting a cat has the same effect. Oxytocin has been shown to contribute to relaxation, trust, and stable mental health. It’s also been shown to reduce stress and anxiety.
Serotonin improves the happy feeling and reduces your stress. The serotonin production in your body is increasing when you are playing with a cat. The more time we spend with our cat, the better we will feel
4) Cats satisfy the human need for touch
Humans have an innate need to be touched, but some people, especially those who deal with mental illness, don’t enjoy being touched by other people. Moreover, they may have a difficult time creating bonds with people that would lead to appropriate touching. Cuddling with or petting a cat can fulfill that need for touch in a way that feels safe.
Our bodies are designed to respond to touch, and not just to sense the environment around us. We have a network of dedicated nerve fibers in our skin that detect and emotionally respond to the touch of another person or a pet — affirming our relationships, our social connections and even our sense of self.
Cats are known for being low maintenance. Petting a cat for 10 or so minutes is believed to relax owners and distract them from other worries.
5) Cats help us navigate the grieving process
We usually think of grief as the loss of a loved one. But it can come from job loss or leaving friends behind when we move. Grief is one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. And your cat can help. They relieve your stress, calm anxiety, and improve overall happiness just by offering a positive and consistent symbiotic relationship with you.
Cats offer many perks to our happiness by increasing oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins in our brains, leaving us feeling happier whenever we are around them.
For those dealing with the effects of grief, these feelings can be important to help us cope.
The great thing about a cat’s companionship is the absence of expectation. Sometimes it can be hard to experience companionship with people in times of grief in a way that isn’t overwhelming to the process.
Cats don’t tell us it’s time to move on. They don’t tell us how to grieve.
With an animal’s companionship comes a no-nonsense relationship that can help mental health and feelings of loneliness without leaving a person feeling like they have to say a certain thing, act a certain way, or interact in socially expectant ways. Support offered by an animal that doesn’t require the same expectations that human interaction does can be helpful.
People grieving the loss of a loved one have reportedly said talking to their pet helps them work through their feelings since it is often easier to talk to something that won’t respond and can’t judge than to another human being who will voice their opinions.
Many animals help us cope with grief, but cats can be especially helpful due to their independent nature. Sometimes people just need space, and cats can provide that space.
6) Cats help regulate emotion and set boundaries
Felines can be particularly helpful in relationship role modeling played out in couple and family therapy. Cats are very sensitive to shouting, bursts of anger, and chaos. When they observe how the cat reacts to what’s happening in the room, they realize they might be spinning out of control.
Cats are helpful for mirroring couple and family dynamics. They are also critical in helping people who struggle with mental illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety learn about emotional regulation.
Emotional regulation involves being able to calm yourself down. Being able to rhythmically pet the cat and focus on stroking the cat’s back and seeing how the cat responds, can be helpful.
Though most animals respond favorably to being petted, having clients strive to get a cat to purr can make a difference. A cat’s purr provides a tangible goal for emotional regulation.
7) Lowers blood pressure
Cat owners are known to have lower blood pressure than non-cat owners due to the calming effect of cats. One study was conducted with a room full of cat owners. In the study, the owners would speak aloud, which naturally elevated blood pressure levels, but when the owners were observed speaking with their cats, their blood pressure remained constant.
8) Having a cat decreases risk of heart disease and heart attacks
A study conducted by the University of Minnesota’s Stroke Institute in Minneapolis concluded people who do not own cats are 30-40% more likely to die of heart attacks than people that own cats. Another study, by the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Neurology, Official journal of Zeenat Qureshi Stroke Research Center, found a decreased risk of death from heart diseases including stroke among people with cats.
9) Felines can lower triglycerides and cholesterol levels
High triglyceride and cholesterol levels contribute to heart disease and are symptomatic of type 2 diabetes as well as strokes, liver, and kidney disease. Naturally, reductions in these levels lead to a decreased risk of these diseases.
10 ) Cats help boost immunity
Exposure to pet dander and fur in the house results in increased resistance to allergens, decreasing the risk for allergies and asthma.
A 2012 article, ‘Why Dogs and Cats Make Babies Healthier at TIME.com talks about a report in the journal Pediatrics, stating researchers found that babies who grow up in homes with a pet — namely a dog or a cat — are less likely to get sick than children who live pet-free. of both dogs and cats revealed that contact with these pets in the first year of life can strengthen a baby’s immune system, particularly against respiratory diseases. Researchers also concluded it may well enhance a better defensive system against childhood illnesses as they get older.
11) Cat ownership enhances sociability
Cat ownership provides a natural conversation starter and can enhance the owner’s ability to socialize. One study revealed that women were more attracted to men who owned cats because cat ownership often suggests sensitivity and intelligence. Leading pet researcher, Dr June Nicolls found that women were more likely to be attracted to men with pets.
12) Cats are purr-fect companions
Owning a cat reduces feelings of loneliness. Though cats are often known for their independence, the bond between a cat and its owner reinforces companionship.
13) Petting a cat can help reduce anxiety in Autistic children
Researchers from the University of Missouri found that the social interaction of children with autism dramatically improved when around pets. In the study, half the families that participated had cats, with parents reporting strong attachments forming between them and their kids.
They have found cats, which are a soft and relatively quiet, are more beneficial for children with autism because dogs can often be exuberant and kind of in your face, whereas a cat is a quieter companion and is less demanding of your attention and your time.”.
In late 2020, The Human-Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced the results of a new study published in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing titled, “Exploratory study of cat adoption in families of children with autism: Impact on children’s social skills and anxiety,’ demonstrating that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may experience increases in empathy and decreases in problem behaviors after adopting a shelter cat into their families.
14) Cats Improvemmental health and addictions
Schizophrenia, drug addiction, depression, also join the list, say nothing about decreased isolation and loneliness. With the increasing number of cat cafes, across the nation and world, plus the numbers of libraries, bookstores, college campuses, and more that are incorporating cats into their hemisphere, cats are taking the role of helping people socialize with others they might not ever have conversed with.
15) There’s even evidence suggesting the Cat Craze on the Internet has positive emotional and physical health benefits
There’s nothing better to boost our feel-good endorphins than a good belly laugh. Why?
- They’re playful. Cats are cats no matter what the size. Your house cat may be playing with a catnip toy, but she’s still stalking, hiding, leaping, and pouncing. Plus, as you watch her play or play with her, you’re going to be laughing.
- Cats, especially kittens are the cutest thing on the planet. After all, how many kitten memes and videos are there online? But happy cats, playful cats, and even sleeping cats are all over social media.
If you like this post, you might also like some of my other blog posts about cats being good for us.:
- Evidence suggests cats help people cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Cats make great therapy pets
- Oliver, a pet therapy rat, brings smiles to people
Why do you think cats are good for us? For the Paws’ family, there’s nothing like snuggling up with a kitty or two on my lap. Then, there’s the occasion when my Siamese wants to snuggle in my arms under the covers. With my four felines, there’s no time to be lonely, and they sure have led me to meet a lot of people who share my love for cats. Please weigh in and share your thoughts!
About the author:
BJ Bangs is an award-winning journalist, blogger, photographer, and communications professional. She blogs at wwww.bjbangs.net (Paws News for Cat Lovers) where you can #Getyourcatfix while on vacation, on the road, or at home. We do this by:
- Keeping our cats happy, healthy & safe
- Building & maintaining lifelong relationships with our felines
- And visiting cat-themed places and events ideal for the cat-obsessed