Long stressful day at work? Or feeling the holiday blues? Take a seat and a deep breath, and treat yourself to a healthy dose of unconditional cat love.
Studies show that having a cat elevates your mood, lowers blood pressure and anxiety levels, improves your sleep, provides comfort and companionship, and encourages physical activity. Cats provide a multitude of therapeutic benefits. They’re just plain good for us.
In a survey by London’s Mental Health Foundation in partnership with Cats Protection, 87% of cat owners said their four-legged companion positively influenced their mental health, and 76% gave their cat credit for helping them cope more effectively with life’s daily stressors.
Here are seven ways cats help distressed and depressed humans:
They offer unconditional love. An animal in your home can sense when you’re feeling down and depressed. Their response: extra nuzzling and a desire to be by your side. If you’re feeling lonely, your kitty can help improve your mental health by simply making you the object of her unconditional love and affection.
They give you purpose and routine. Your cat depends on you to provide food, water, and affection. That in and of itself motivates you to get out of bed and move, which keeps you from isolating yourself, being sedentary, or wallowing in misery.
They lift your spirits. Studies show petting or stroking your animal improves your mood. Even more therapeutic is feeling and hearing your cat’s purr, which many people associate with calm and tranquility.
They encourage you to move. Taking care of your kitty and playing with her encourages physical activity, which offers you psychological benefits since studies show exercise is a natural remedy to fight depression.
They offer support during trying times. If you find it difficult to talk to another human being, you can always air your feelings to your four-legged friend. At least, he won’t offer his two-cents worth, interrupt, or act judgmental.
They lower blood pressure and anxiety levels. Stroking your cat’s coat produces a calming effect, which in turn raises her purring levels for even more psychological benefits. The act of stroking an animal can reduce the level of stress-related hormones in the blood stream. This lowers blood pressure and heart rate, both of which can increase risks for stroke and heart disease if elevated for long periods of time, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota. University scientists conducted a study to determine whether having a cat helped reduce the risk of stroke. Results showed owning a cat cuts stroke risk by a third!
They help you sleep better. A sleep study by the Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine showed 41% of people in the study admitted they slept better because of their animal. Sharing your bed with your four-legged companion eases feelings of loneliness and anxiety, helping you relax as you drift off to sleep. Better sleep means feeling more positive and hopeful come morning.
Your cat might not completely alleviate symptoms of depression or anxiety, but your furry bundle of love may just be the antidote that delivers a healthy dose of joy every day.
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