In this article
- The health benefits of having a cat
- Stress-free thanks to cuddling?
- No allergies thanks to my cat?
- And what about watching cat videos?
Today, we’re excited to be exploring the health benefits of having a cat. Over the course of the pandemic, the role of animal companions changed for good. Throughout this difficult time, many of us have found companionship, love and support in our cats and dogs. In fact, pets were so intrinsic to how we got through the pandemic that over 3 million UK households took on pets between March 2020 and early 2021.
Well, we aren’t surprised! Cats have been making our lives happier for many years now. A recent survey found that there are an incredible 10.8 million cats in the UK, with 28% of households home to one feline friend. Each with their own unique personality – from lazy lap cat to bold explorer of the outside world – cats are proven to promote our wellbeing and reduce stress.
The health benefits of having a cat
So, what really are the health benefits of having a cat? Studies over the past years have demonstrated just how beneficial the relationship between cats and humans can be for our mental and physical health. These studies have concluded that enjoying close contact with a cat has a positive impact on both our mental and physical health.
For instance, researchers at the US National Library of Medicine found that cat ownership lowered the risk of fatal cardiovascular diseases, concluding that getting a cat could be a new strategy to reduce the risk of strokes and cardiovascular disease in high-risk individuals.
But there’s more. Intriguingly, these health benefits of having a cat might well be connected to the soft and beautiful purr which we are all familiar with. Indeed, as humans, simply listening to a cat’s purr can help us relax, much like we relax upon hearing the sound of waves wash up against a beach. It soothes the soul. This same purr, which is usually between 20 and 150 Hertz, can support pain relief, breathlessness and inflammation, according to this article which shows that these frequencies are the best ‘healing frequencies’ out there.
Stress-free thanks to cuddling?
Alongside physical benefits, cats are also the way to live a stress-free life! A study that used students to investigate the impact dogs and cats have on stress levels found that spending as little as 10 minutes with one of these fluffy friends significantly reduces cortisol, a major stress hormone. So, next time you know someone pulling an all-nighter to get that essay in: why not lend them your cat?
No allergies thanks to my cat?
A Swedish study has also shown how owning a cat can help young children avoid developing allergies. The researchers examined the rise of allergies during early childhood and concluded that the more household cats and dogs that a child is exposed to during the first year of their life, the less allergic manifestations of asthma, eczema and allergic rhino-conjunctivitis were found! Paws up, Felix!
And what about watching cat videos?
And it turns out… cat videos aren’t to be scoffed at either! A peer reviewed study from Indiana University found that even if you don’t own a cat, taking time to see what our furry friends are up to on the internet can actually make you happier.
The phenomenal rise of cat videos is staggering. 12 years ago, there were already around 2 million such videos on YouTube. Today, that number has risen to 26 billion. By interviewing 7,000 people who viewed cat videos, professor Jessica Gall Myrick found that watching cat videos boosts viewers’ energy and positive emotions, whilst decreasing negative feelings.
There you have it! Not that we needed another reason to love our feline friends, but it turns out that the health benefits of having a cat – or even just watching them online – are huge for both our mental and physical health!