Owning a cat can be a rewarding experience. Non-cat owners may think of cats as being aloof and hidden most of the time, but that’s not entirely true. In fact, studies show that owning a cat can reduce your stress levels and improve your mental health. You may be saying to yourself, “no way,” but it’s true.
Cats make excellent companions, and now that we’ve piqued your interest in how they can help improve stress levels and mental health, read on to learn how they help humans and the benefits of owning a feline friend.
The 7 Ways Cats Can Help With Mental Health and Stress
1. Improves Your Sleep
Sleep is vital for your overall health. Sleep plays a role in lowering the risk for heart disease, preventing depression, keeping your immune system strong, increasing your memory, and more. When your cat sleeps with you, it gives off a sense of calmness and safety, which naturally reduces stress. In fact, the Mayo Clinic performed a sleep study revealing that 41% of pet owners sleep better with their pets, including cats.
2. They Give You a Routine
As with any pet, owning a cat is a big responsibility. Cats rely on us to provide food, water, shelter, and a place to poop. Some cats demand your attention and want to play, and by engaging in playful activity, you’re lowering your stress levels. A routine also keeps you from isolating yourself while at home; your cat needs to eat, drink water, exercise, and poop, and you’re responsible for ensuring your cat has all its needs taken care of. In short, there’s no time for succumbing to misery.
3. They Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a silent killer. Some people don’t even realize they have high blood pressure until they go to the doctor for something else. For cat owners, owning a cat can reduce their chance of a heart attack by one-third. It’s believed that a cat’s purr ranges from 20–140 hertz, and that range reduces stress responses in humans. For this same reason, a cat’s purr can help joint mobility in humans, reduce swelling, and help with shortness of breath.
4. They Give Unconditional Love
Your cat will not judge you, no matter what. As long as a cat has no traumatic history with humans, your cat will look for you when it wants attention. The attention can be in the form of wanting to play, speaking to you (meowing), and just cuddling. Your cat will not give you grief over running it off while you were on an important business call; instead, your cat will still come purring when you have the time to spend. They don’t hold grudges and will be by your side, especially if you’re upset or just having a bad day.
5. They Provide Companionship
For those who live alone, owning a cat helps reduce loneliness. Senior citizens often benefit from owning cats because they often live alone, and some may suffer from physical limitations that require them to be home most of the time. Without a cat, that is time spent being isolated and desolate. Studies show that animal companionship is therapeutic and improves one’s mental status.
6. May Reduce Allergies in Infants and Children
Some people will always be allergic to cats, but studies reveal that allergies in infants and toddlers are significantly reduced from being exposed to pets in the first year of life. Early exposure also helps lessen the possibility of developing asthma. Contrary to belief, owning a cat when you have a baby can greatly reduce your child’s chances of having allergies.
7. They Help You Cope With a Loss
Losing a loved one, whether it’s a human or pet, can be devastating. One’s mental health can decline over such a loss, and cats provide emotional support. Cats know when you’re sad due to the change in your mood, as they are tuned in to your normal, everyday behaviors. In a recent study, cats use auditory and visual cues to determine your mood, and if you’re crying, odds are your cat will come running to comfort you.
As you can see, science-based evidence proves that cats can help with mental health and stress. Having a purring feline companion will lift your spirits and give you the responsibility to get you moving. Owning a cat enables you to sleep better, ward off loneliness, and even physically reduce stress hormones, which in turn, could save your life down the road. In short, owning a cat is awesome!
Featured Image Credit: Evrymmnt, Shutterstock