What are the human health benefits of having a cat?
Did you know there are “therapy cats?” Cats with this title have the remarkable job of visiting hospitals, senior homes, and other community centers. While there they offer unconditional love and comfort to anyone who could use some. Sometimes unassuming and non-judgmental animals are able to reach people in ways that even expert humans cannot. Anyone who has had a pet can understand how this form of therapy is able to create an incredible and almost indescribable connection. Some people even have “emotional support cats,” which are similar to service dogs in that they remain with their specific human as permanent assistance. Cats can bring beautiful color and charm to your life.
Routine and Stability
One way a cat stabilizes the life of his human is by being a creature in constant need of nurturing. Going through the daily motions of caring for a cat gives a person a routine and purpose, even on a small scale. Cats rely entirely on us for their physical and emotional well-being. They are not able to crack open the food bag, scoop out the litter box, or top up the water dish. If you’re feeling a little bummed out and don’t want to get out of bed, a cat is an excellent motivator. Chances are your cat will be either pawing at your bedroom door or kneading his paws on your forehead in no time. Though they are less maintenance than dogs, they still require daily effort and kindness. It is often the small steps that snowball into real change and growth. By carrying out these daily chores faithfully, we build a strong sense of discipline. That innate drive will undoubtedly filter into and improve other areas of life.
Laughter is the Best Medicine
They say that laughing in abundance will make you live longer. If that’s true, bringing a cat into your life will increase your life expectancy. If it’s not quite accurate, then the worst-case scenario is that you’ll end up laughing more! We could probably all use a little more laughter in our lives. Although kittens have the reputation of being most entertaining, adult cats provide their fair share of humor as well. There’s a reason that so many people love to watch (and then send their friends) videos of cats being goofballs. Watching a cat spontaneously freeze before randomly sprint into another room is puzzling and amusing. Two cats rolling around together or pouncing on each other is definitely worth pausing whatever you were doing before you spotted them. Perhaps the funniest thing cats do is wipe out in their haste and promptly jump back up as if nothing happened. To watch a cat proudly shake off a fall and continue busily doing the very important thing he was previously engaged in is to receive a powerful lesson in confidence. Regardless of the endeavor, cats have a way of going about life that just makes you smile.
Man’s Best Friend?
Although dogs are known for being “man’s best friend,” cats are at the very least equal in their companionship abilities. Cats appreciate their cuddle time without being excessively needy. Even though they have a reputation for being distant, many cats will “meow” repeatedly until they achieve the goal of obtaining their human’s attention. Anyone who has come home to a cat who has been alone for hours knows the wild-eyed look of an attention-hungry feline. Unlike with dogs, you don’t have to worry about fitting in time for a daily walk around the block.
Cats are also excellent sleeping buddies. If you don’t like sleeping alone and you find yourself in that position, combat feelings of loneliness by sharing your bed with a pet. Many people sleep better with a pet in the bed, and cats are less likely than dogs to jostle you awake in the middle of the night. A dog might keep you up all night by panting and thus shaking the entire bed. A fellow person might hog the covers or accidentally wake you when getting up. A cat, meanwhile, is simply a warm little ball of devotion curled up unassumingly somewhere. Of course, a cat may also decide it’s breakfast time before you’re quite ready to get up, but nobody’s perfect.
If you’re lacking oxytocin (the “love hormone”) in your life, cuddling a cat is a surefire way to gain it. When we stroke a cat, oxytocin is released in our bodies. They can literally make us feel love. Oxytocin is associated with increased empathy and trust. If you suffer from high levels of stress, a daily kitty cuddle session can go a long way in relieving some of that anxiety. Similarly, if you’d like to get some things off your chest without confiding them in another person, your cat is a constantly available listener. Maybe there are days where you’d like to talk to a fellow person, but the timing doesn’t work out. Unlike with a human confidant, you don’t have to schedule time with your feline. Venting to your pet may make you feel a little crazy, but it’s much healthier to let these things out than to keep them in and let them fester.
Another way that cats decrease stress is by reminding us to live presently. We all know we should be appreciating the present moment, but that’s easier said than done. It’s also easy to forget about once all the quirks and problems of the day land on our shoulders. An inquisitive cat walking figure-8’s around your ankles is a superb way to bring yourself back into the moment. Your cat is not worrying about what might happen ten minutes from now. He’s engaged in his life, and that energy can be infectious if you allow it to be. Take a cue from your cat and live a little spontaneously.
In addition to all of the above support that cats provide, they also offer a way to bond with other people. Cat people. Once you know how delightful it is to love and be loved by a cat, you usually appreciate the opportunity to chat about this with like-minded people. Maybe you’ll meet a new friend, romantic interest, or simply enjoy a solid conversation with a stranger. Regardless of the way your particular cat improves your life, any upkeep required is sure to be a fair trade for the beautiful advantages you receive in return.