Cats are good for your health

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If you have a cat, you love your cat for the companionship that they provide.  A sympathetic ear, great listening skills, and boundless affection are all great benefits of cat ownership, but your cat may actually be doing more for you than you think. Scientists claim stroking a cat has been proven to lower blood pressure, and cat owners tend to  have lower triglycerides, which reduces their risk of developing and dying from cardiovascular disease. A University of Minnesota study of 4,435 people found that those who did not own  cats were 30-40% more likely to die of cardiovascular disease, even if they  owned dogs.

Cats can reduce feelings of loneliness, anxiety, depression, and other negative  states. Just owning any pet can also reduce the likelihood of suffering from physical problems, which is evident  in the fact that pet owners require fewer visits to the hospital on average.  Studies conducted in Germany and Australia found that those with companion animals visited the hospital 15% less often than those without pets. In China,  pet owners saw even greater benefits, with 20% fewer hospital visits.

Recent research shows that the sound of a cat’s purr is conducive to bone growth. Scientists are looking into using the same frequencies and vibrations in healing or halting osteoporosis, as well as in treating bone fractures.

Cats and dogs – but especially cats – have been used in some hospitals and nursing homes as a kind of therapy for the bedridden and ill.  The warmth of their furry bodies and open, purring friendship can drastically influence a person’s state of mind for the better.  A study conducted in the states of New York, Missouri, and Texas found that nursing homes that allowed pets had lower medication costs than those that didn’t.

Children also benefit from the raising of a pet. Studies have shown pet owners have higher self-esteem levels, better social skills, and a greater sense of responsibility toward others.  Young children and infants who are exposed to cats at an early age are said to develop resistance to allergens and asthma.

Autistic children can benefit from cat ownership. Those with autism have a hard time communicating in the same way that others do. Having a cat can actually help in these cases. There have been instances where cats have been instrumental in their therapy.

During the Middle Ages people believed that stroking the tail of a black cat would cure a sty on the eyelid. They also thought that fever could be cured by wearing a pouch containing the dung of a female cat and the claw of an owl. (I think I’ll just take an aspirin.)

Oh, and a health warning for those less kind to felines: Medieval lore says that if you kick a cat, you will develop rheumatism in that leg. (Oh oh I’m in big trouble.)

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My mother’s cats

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I spent the day at my mother’s house today. It is her birthday. She has two cats.  The older male is called A**hole. The younger female is name Sh**thead.

The male is huge and very cranky. He likes to knock his head into your shin, but doesn’t like to be touched.

Hole has been king of the house for about six years. He was given to my parents by my brother. He has gotten more nasty since the stray kitten was brought into the house, this past winter.

My dad had found a litter of five kittens in the late fall.  Because the farm is in the country people are always dropping off unwanted cats. My dad took pity on this batch because they were so young. He started to feed them.  Head was the runt of the litter, but she was also the boldest.

The whole litter disappeared for a few weeks. My dad feared the worst. Suddenly Head was back. No one knows what happened to the others. Head is a very affectionate kitten, and she is playful. She will tease Hole until he is nuts.

 Of all the cats that my parents have had, I like Head the best. She will usually lay cuddled on my lap as long as I allow her.

They had one cat years ago that I not only disliked, but I was afraid of her. Mouse had a lot of the markings of a Russian Blue, but she had none of the personality. Blues are known for the affectionate quiet disposition. Mouse was the most miserable cat I have ever met. I made my mother lock her in a room away from my kids because she would attack them, even if they ignored her.

I must admit, I had a hard time sympathizing with my mother, when Mouse died.

A quirky cat

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Tripps has a few other quirks I feel I must mention.

At some stage in Tripps life he must have been fed cat food from a tin, because he can hear a hand-operated can opener from anywhere in the house. Even if he is sleeping and the music is blaring the can isn’t completely open and Tripps is there. He is not only under foot, but annoyingly in the way. No matter where you turn he is there.

You dropped something. Are you going to pick it up?

Tripps is a very picky eater, he never eats anything dropped on the floor. Although he hovers around the stove while we are preparing food, he will examine anything we drop, but he never eats it. He will not even eat chicken, his favourite food, unless it is put in his dish. He won’t even lick food off of our fingers. The only other human food he gets is the drained off juices from a can of tuna. As a treat I put the juices back into the tin, add a crust of bread and a bit of water. He practically dances while I prepare this rare treat.

One night I was making canned chili for supper. Tripps was right there being helpful. Because of this I decided to teach him a lesson. After opening the can I offered it to him. You can imagine my surprise when he tried to stick his head into the can to lick it. I had to pull his head out because I was afraid he would cut his tongue. He was mad because I took it away. He wanted the vegetarian chili.

We have found out he will eat anything that come from a can including peas, corn and any type of soup. He is weird. We now have to rinse all the can and place them upside down in the recycle bin. If not he will try to get into the bin and possible hurt himself.

Tripps also like greens. I once had a Peace Lily plant. Before Tripps moved in, it had even bloomed a few times. Now there is only one lonely stalk. He has tipped the plant over more times than I can count while trying to eat it. I had a Spider Plant for a month or so. It was a huge plant that hung down a few feet from the container. There are only a few places in the house I can put such a plant so it can get enough sunlight and still hang freely.

I placed the plant on a tall bookcase where it got sunlight from the window in the front door. Unfortunately the bookcase is along the side of the staircase. Tripps was able to reach through the rungs and chew on the plant. I took pity on the plant and gave it away. Last year a friend gave me a bamboo stalk. It is still alive, but barely. Tripps has been able to trim the bamboo everywhere I have placed it, even on top of the fridge.

The most annoying habit Tripps has is his need to sharpen his claws on anything, but the seven-foot scratching post that was made for him. His favourite scratching spots are the doorway

Oh dang! Busted!

between the kitchen and dining room, the front door frame and the banister. If you look closely at the photo above you can see the scratches on the door frame. (He had been scratching the banister when I took this shot). He loves to sharpen his claws an hour after we have gone to bed, usually waking me up. He will also do it as a form of protest, if he thinks we have all left the house. The local vets do not like to de-claw cats. They claim it leaves a cat defenseless if they get outside. (I think they have not met Tripps.) We have found a solution. I put tin foil over the areas he likes to use. It get a few funny looks, especially the banister at the front door, but it is very effective. We have told kids that it is there to prevent alien invasion.