Cats Help Improve Our Moods and Help Us Deal with Stress
Do you know just 15 to 30 minutes of quality time with a cat can calm your nerves and boost your mood? There’s even chemical evidence. When you spend time with a cat, your production of serotonin, a chemical that boosts feelings of well-being, goes up, and your cortisol levels go down. Cortisol, along with high blood pressure, is a result of stress, and can lead to high cholesterol and hypertension. This means that spending time with a cat can keep you healthier in the long run.
DID YOU KNOW?
A 20-year study found that people who owned a cat were 40% less likely to die from a heart attack.
J Vasc Interv Neurol. 2009 January; 2(1): 132-135. PMCID: PMC3317329
More and more stories are cropping up about cats that can tell when their owners are about to have seizures and will do their best to warn them. While scientists suspect this ability has something to do with detecting biochemical scents, how it works remains a mystery.
BBC News, “Pet cat ‘senses’ Bournemouth owner’s epilepsy.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-12740040.
Pets Can Be Good for Our Children
- When kids imagine how a pet feels, it may help them learn to empathise with their peers and take their feelings into account.
- Teaching children to confide in their pets as if they were friends may help children recover from trauma.
- Children who own pets may have higher self-esteem.
- Teaching kids to care for a cat may make them more cooperative and willing to share.
The New York Times, “HEALTH; Children and Their Pets: Unexpected Psychological Benefits.” http://www.nytimes.com/1990/01/11/us/health-children-and-their-pets-unexpected-psychological-benefits.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm.<
Pets Can Help Us Recover from Trauma
- They can help us reconnect with our neighbours.
- They serve as companions when family’s not around, or can make our families even closer.
Another Breed of “Service” Animals: STARS Study Findings About Pet Ownership and Recovery from Serious Mental Illness. Wisdom, J.P.; Saedi, G. A.; Green, Carla A. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 2009 Jul; 79(3): 430-436
Pets Can Keep the Doctor Away
A study found that dog owners visit the doctor 8% less frequently than non-owners.
Cat owners visited even less – 12% less frequently.
G.L. Jennings, Director, The Alfred & Baker Medical Unit, The Alfred Healthcare Group and The Baker Medical Research Institute. Paper presented at the 7th International Conference on Human-Animal Interactions, Animals, Health and Quality of Life, September 6-9, 1995, Geneva, Switzerland.
Need More Proof? Look to the Wonder Pets in Animal-Assisted Therapy
When pets were present during therapy sessions:
- Depressed patients were more social and experienced decreases in depression.
- Children with severe ADHD showed increased attention spans.
- Autistic or developmentally disabled patients were more social, and showed increased attention spans.
- Patients with Alzheimer’s experienced decreases in depression and anger, with increased attention spans.
Of course, having a pet isn’t right for everyone. But if you’re in the right place in life and have love to give, you might be surprised by the ways your life improves.
Odendaal, J. S. (2000). Animal assisted therapy: Magic or medicine? Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 49(4), 275-280.