Tag Archives: The Health Benefits of Cat Ownership

The Health Benefits of Cat Ownership

HealthBenefitsCatsJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

Have you ever been asked, “Are you a dog person or a cat person?” While some won’t hesitate to voice their preference for canines or felines, many American pet owners choose both. According to pet statistics, it’s estimated that 68% of us own at least one pet, either a dog, cat, bird or horse. Estimates show that dog ownership is highest at 60%, and cat ownership is not far behind with 47%. Even by these estimates, there are more cats living with us than dogs, as cat lovers are more likely to own more than one kitty. While older single women who house a cat, or two, or three, have been stereotyped as “crazy cat ladies,” adopting a kitten or a cat can greatly benefit mental and physical wellness, especially if you are a woman who finds herself alone after age 50.

While cats do indeed provide companionship, these fluffy, entertaining, independent, playful, curious, and sometimes mischievous creatures will often decide for themselves whether they want our attention. Perhaps that just makes us more grateful, and the kitties even more lovable, as they crawl up into our laps for an anytime nap, or climb on our keyboards forcing us to take a break. Oops, you didn’t really want that family heirloom, right?  Else you would not have left it where it might be easily or purposely knocked over! What they may lack in terms of the human definition of social graces, cats, with their debonair attitudes, appear to have a perennial “get out of jail free card,” as it’s nigh impossible for their humans to stay angry with them.

Cats may get into a bit of trouble now and then, yet research has found that living with a cat helps to reduce stress and anxiety, lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and protects against heart disease. A study, carried out by Professor Adnan Qureshi, M.D., of the University of Minnesota, found that cat owners had a much-reduced death risk due to heart attacks. The 20-year follow-up study that involved 4435 participants found significantly reduced relative risk of death due to myocardial infarction (MI), cardiovascular diseases, and stroke, as compared to those who never owned a cat at any time, and showed an increased risk for participants without cats. There was also a decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases for participants with past cat ownership, and surprisingly, dog ownership provided no reduced risk of death due to MI or cardiovascular diseases.

  • Cat owners will tell you that, along with companionship, just having a cat nearby provides a calming effect. It appears that stroking a cat can calm the nervous system, lower blood levels of stress-related hormones and enhance feelings of wellbeing by boosting levels of serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter.
  • Just looking at our pets can signal the release of oxytocin, another powerful neurochemical that brings feelings of joy and happiness, along with a decrease in cortisol, a stress hormone.
  • In addition to being relaxing and stress reducing, a cat’s purr creates vibrations within a range of 20-140 Hz. Science shows that vibrations at specific levels or frequencies cause healing changes in the body. Evidence suggests exposure to these vibrations can help relieve headaches, allow bones to heal faster, repair muscles, tendons and ligaments, and increase production of anti-inflammatory compounds, thereby reducing joint pain and swelling.
  • Purring has also been shown to help resolve respiratory problems of dyspnea, the sudden difficult breathing or shortness of breath associated with heart disease.
  • The average housecat generally purrs in the range of 25-50 Hz. Exposure to purring vibrations at 20-50 Hz is associated with increased bone density, suggesting applications for osteoporosis, particularly in post-menopausal women and the elderly.

Purring takes energy and cats purr not only when all is well, but also when they are hurt, scared, ill, or physically stressed. Researchers believe that cats evolved to purr as a survival mechanism and purr to heal themselves. As cats can change the frequency of their purring, they may actually be fine-tuning their healing abilities, contributing to the notion of cats having “nine lives”. Petting has therapeutic benefits for the cat too, helping to calm, soothe and reduce blood pressure and cortisol levels. As cats are masters at training people, allow your cat to teach you when and where it prefers to be petted or stroked, so you each get the maximum enjoyment and healthy benefits from your mutually beneficial relationship.

In addition to a heathy lifestyle, sharing your home and life with a cat or two, may be a novel strategy for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially in high-risk individuals. Studies have also shown that seniors living with cats have lower blood pressure and longer lifespans than people who live without cats. If you are looking for an easy-care pet companion, perhaps consider heading to your nearest shelter and adopting an older homeless cat or kitten and at the same time enjoy the many healthy and entertaining benefits of life with a cat (or two or three)!

Professional Supplement Center carries fine quality products that support the health and wellness of your kitty:

Life Extension Cat...Life Extension Cat Mix by Life Extension®: This advanced powdered nutritional formula provides significant amounts of high grade nutrients necessary to help protect cats’ optimal health, including essential vitamins, flavonoids, amino acids including taurine and arginine, antioxidants, probiotics, essential fatty acids, methylation enhancers and more.

Omega-3 Pet for Cats...Omega-3 Pet for Cats and Small Breed Dogs by Nordic Naturals: This important liquid supplement provides omega-3 essential fatty acids to help support optimal pet health, including cellular, immune, joint, heart, and skin and coat health, as well as brain and eye development and maintenance.

Pets L-Lysine Powder...Pets L-Lysine Powder for Cats by Now® Pets: Veterinarian recommended L-Lysine helps to support a heathy immune system, normal respiratory function, and the maintenance of ocular health. Suitable for cats and kittens. Perfect for boarding situations and multi-cat households.

Joint Care for Cats...Joint Care for Cats and Small Dogs by Nutritional Frontiers: These tasty little chewables provide a synergistic combination of ingredients to optimize pets’ joint function and comfort, and provide necessary ingredients to support normal joint structure. Suitable for all stages of life, whether to support healthy joint function in young pets, or aid flexibility and comfort in older pets. Recommended for cats and geriatric, retired, working or sporting dogs.

References:
U.S. Pet Ownership Statistics. https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Statistics/Pages/Market-research-statistics-US-pet-ownership.aspx
Pet Statistics: http://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/pet-statistics
Owning a cat ‘cuts stroke risk by third.’ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1582144/Owning-a-cat-cuts-stroke-risk-by-third.html
Cats Help Improve Our Moods and Help Us Deal with Stress. https://www.purina.co.nz/cats/getting-a-cat/benefits-of-having-a-cat/
Cat ownership and the Risk of Fatal Cardiovascular Diseases. Results from the Second National Health and Nutrition Examination Study Mortality Follow-up Study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3317329/
17 Health Benefits of Owning a Cat. http://mritechnicianschools.net/2010/17-health-benefits-of-owning-a-cat/
What’s in it for the cat? De-stressing studies of cat-human relationships. http://www.knowyourcat.info/info/humancontact.htm
Can Your Cat’s Purr Heal? https://animalwellnessmagazine.com/can-your-cats-purr-heal/