How Cats Are Good for Our Health
The gentle padding of paws, the soothing sound of a purr, the softness of feline fur. Cat guardians delight in the joys these charismatic creatures bring. As an added bonus, these feline beauties give us health benefits, too. Mental health, heart health and even physical healing are improved with the company of a cat. We take a closer look at how cats are good for our health.
Studies reveal that people who have pets are more generally satisfied with life than people without pets. A study published in the American Psychological Association journal on a group of 120 university students showed that those with pets scored higher on social sensitivity and interpersonal trust. It follows that these young people had richer and more fulfilling social interactions. Social isolation is a marker for poor mental health, like anxiety and depression.
Another study involving 162 participants showed that cat owners had significantly better scores for general mental health. They also had a more positive attitude towards animals in general than non-cat owners.
Studies suggest that having pets benefits older people, too. Research focussed on the influence pet ownership has on the mental health of older adults in the UK. An analysis of a huge 145 peer-reviewed studies reveals evidence of pets positively influencing the health and wellbeing of older people. Data shows pets provide companionship and a sense of purpose and meaning. They reduce loneliness and prevent a decrease in socialisation. All of these benefits can help protect older adults against declining mental health, and physical health.
The above meta-study also pointed to the opportunity to improve heart health in the elderly. The Australian Department of Health reports that heart disease affects one in every six Australians. Lifestyle changes are the most significant way to prevent heart disease, but stress levels are an important factor. This is where cats can make an impact.
Research shows that cats lower stress and blood pressure, directly affecting the cardiovascular system. The results of a University of Minnesota study show that cat ownership decreased the risk of heart attack and cardiovascular diseases. Data from 1,115 cat-owning participants showed a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
Domestic animals can sense illness and pain. And while some believe their feline companion seems to want to soothe their guardian with their company – which is effective on its own – the reason for their attention may be an instinctual desire to offer healing to their guardian.
Elizabeth von Muggenthaler is a bioacoustician – a scientist that studies natural sound. Her studies reveal that the frequency of a cat’s purr corresponds to the vibrational frequencies that are used to help bone and muscle repair, pain, oedema, joint flexibility, dyspnea and general wound healing. The vibration of your cat’s purr can physiologically provide healing. This divine gift is made all the more special when they lay themselves upon the affected area.
Cats offer us guardians so much joy and emotional nourishment. Now we can add healing to that list, too. Read 9 Ways to Make Your Cat Happy for tips on keeping your feline friend content.