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.)