Did you know that as many as 30% of the population considers themselves to be "cat people?" That doesn't include equal-opportunity "pet people," meaning those who like both cats and dogs. Humans spend a lot of money caring for their pets and with cats, it can sometimes feel like they're a little ungrateful for all you do. Still, cats are pretty awesome companions. Here's the scoop on what scientists believe owning a cat can do for you.
1. Well-being. While cats aren't good for your furniture, an Australian study has found that people who own a cat have better psychological health over those who do not own pets. Cat owners feel happier, more confident, and less nervous. Additionally, they sleep better and can face and focus on their problems better. Kids who have kitties fair better, as well. A Scottish study of young people ages 11-15 who had a strong bond with their cat had a better quality of life than those without a pet. The closer the bond with their cat, the more energetic they felt; they also showed less sadness, were less lonely, had more attention, and enjoyed their time alone more. Cats can also cajole humans with their crazy antics and weird sleeping positions that any yogi would envy. I guess that's why funny cat videos are some of the most watched and shared on YouTube.
2. Stress. Cats (and pets in general) help humans to lower their stress level. In one study, participants were hooked up to heart monitors and put through several daunting tasks. The participants were either alone in the room with just their cat roaming around, or with just their spouse, and a few had both the spouse and the cat. Even before the tests began, the cat owners registered lower resting heart rates and blood pressure than those who didn't own a pet. During the stressful testing, the cat owners also fared better. They felt more challenged and less threatened, their heart and blood pressure rates were better, and they even made fewer mistakes! After the tests were over, the cat owners looked and felt calmer and physiologically recovered faster than those without pets. Why is that? Because cats don't judge you on your math skills and they don't become overly distressed when their owner is distressed. Humans receive comfort from their cats while the cats remain little "independent beings" Cats are a reassuring presence when the rest of the world can seem chaotic. Cats are unconcerned about all the cares of the world.
3. Relationships. Humans have a relationship with their cats; they care for the cat and believe that the cat, in some small but important ways, cares for them. Studies show that cat owners are more socially sensitive, have greater trust, and like others more than non-pets owners. People who watch cat videos even feel more supported than those aren't "fans of feline digital media." When someone...human or animal...makes you feel more connected, it builds the capacity for kindness and generosity toward others. 'Pets appear to act as social catalysts, including social contact between people."
4. Health. Cats (and pets in general) offer humans physical health benefits, as well. In one study that followed 4,425 people for 13 years, found that the people who had owned cats in the past were less likely to die of a heart attack during that cat ownership time than those who hadn't owned a cat. And that even included such risk factors as blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking, and body mass index. Cats are a form of "preventative medicine", so it seems. Another study that followed a couple of dozen new cat owners for 10-months, found that the cat owners suffered fewer colds, fewer backaches, and fewer headaches than the non-cat owners. It has been shown, though, that cat owners are more open to new experiences than dog owners.
Pets whatever kind human choose, make them happier, more social, and maybe even healthier. Most research that's been done in the past, has focused on dog owners, in part because dogs are easier to work with. So these recent studies should be a good news to cat owners.
I love animals...all animals...and I am so happy that many humans do, as well. Pets give us a great deal and ask very little; a little kindness, a little food, and a comfy safe place to curl up. Give your four-legged best friend a hug and thank them for simply being them. They may not understand exactly why you're hugging them, but they'll be purrrr-fectly happy that you did!
I invite you all back again tomorrow but, until then, i wish you (and your cat or dog)