Known for their independence and sometimes devil-may-care attitude about life, cats are some of the most unique animals you'll ever be around. After all, just when you think they are so aloof that you don't matter to them, they will come up to you, rub around your legs, jump up in your lap, and start a string of non-stop purring that will calm the nerves of anyone.
Because of this, more and more studies have been conducted concerning the health benefits we humans can derive from our furry feline friends. Along with the many physical benefits we gain from cats, there are also numerous mental and even spiritual benefits as well.
1 | Reconnect With Nature
For many kitties, going outside to nibble some grass, observe some birds, or just find a warm, sunny spot is a great way to spend their time. And yes, you can work with your indoor cat to get him outside with a harness. It may take some work, but getting outside may be worth it for both of you.
While you're outside with your cat, you're soaking up lots of sunshine and fresh air, which can give you plenty of Vitamin D and boost your mood.
This helps your body fight off a number of mental and physical issues, including depression, cancer, heart disease, and obesity.
You can spend quality time with your kitty while you're feeling a cool breeze in your face or listening to leaves rustling and birds singing, which as we all know (but don’t practice enough!) is an excellent way to re-center and be mindful of the present.
2 | Get Healthy And Stay Off Medication
In today's world, it sometimes seems as if you're expected to take a new medication every time you have a sniffle or muscle ache.
However, if you take a more holistic approach to your health, owning a cat may be a great idea.
One of the biggest benefits you may gain from joining the millions who own cats is a healthier body.
I have been so surprised by the amount of physical benefits we reap when we spend time with cats. Everything from lowering cholesterol more than cholesterol meds, to reducing the risk of heart attack by 30%. And if that’s not enough, how about lower blood pressure, lower triglycerides, lower risk of stroke, and they’re great for helping babies develop strong immune systems.
3 | Stress Reduction
With insanely high expectations to be on and performing 24/7, it’s no wonder stress and anxiety are on the rise and affecting millions of people.
But did you know that one of the best remedies for stress reduction just happens to be owning a cat? By simply petting a kitty, you're immediately relieving stress. By learning to concentrate on the softness of the cat's fur, their purring, and their breathing, your body will emit more oxytocin and have lower levels of cortisol, the hormone that leads to increased stress levels.
And this little tip is kind of like a cheat code…
Even if you don’t have a cat, you can reduce stress and anxiety by watching cat videos.
So next time your coworker asks you why you’re watching cat videos for the tenth time today, you can tell her you’re taking a mental health break, and be backed up by a University study.
4 | Cats are Great Listeners
If you've got a problem and nobody else to tell it to, your cat can be a great listener. Whether you want to talk about a bad day at work, relationship issues, or share an inner secret you don't yet feel comfortable sharing with your human friends or family, a cat can be a great source of comfort.
They are nonjudgmental and offer nothing but unconditional love, so they're the perfect "person" to talk to when times are tough.
5 | Slow Down and Live in the Moment
If cats are good at anything, it's knowing how to slow down, smell the catnip, and live in the present moment.
Rather than worrying about what will happen in an hour, a day, or a week from now, your cat simply focuses only on what's going to happen right now.
If you're smart, you'll pay attention to your cat's behavior and try to emulate it as much as possible in your own life.
It can always be a challenge when life is moving so fast to remain mindful, but I’ve found that my cats are a really helpful “trigger” throughout the day to get me to go, “Oh yeah...slow down. Breathe. Be aware.”
6 | Cats Give You a Purpose in Life
A fulfilling life is often synonymous with a purpose-driven life. In this regard, owning a cat can do this and much more.
Knowing you have a living creature's life depending on your care can help get you up and moving each day, especially if you're battling depression.
I know, because this is how my love for cats originally started. My first cat helped pull me out of a depressive funk I was in, and pretty much gave me my life back.
By needing to feed your kitty, play with it, clean its litter box, and make sure it's healthy each day, you're able to focus on something other than yourself. By doing all this and seeing the positive reaction your cat will provide, you'll experience a high level of instant gratification that can carry you through some tougher times.
7 | Volunteering at an Animal Shelter
If living arrangements, health issues, or other circumstances prevent you from owning a cat yourself, there are other ways you can reap numerous benefits from being around these fascinating felines.
I already mentioned that you can chill out by watching cat videos. But one of the best ways to get some hands-on interaction is by volunteering your time at a local animal shelter.
If possible, you can help feed, exercise, medicate, and hopefully convince potential pet parents to give your kitties a forever home. By spending your time working at this worthwhile cause, you'll not only be getting the benefits that physical touch with animals provides, you’ll be making a difference in helping to get more pets adopted, and you’ll be working with and meeting people who feel the same way you do about animals.
Because of this, you're bound to feel better physically, mentally, and spiritually. And who knows, you may even discover you'd like to work with animals for a living.
If this happens, you're also gaining valuable experience that could lead to a future job, perhaps even at the shelter in which you are volunteering.
8 | Cats Will Make You Smile
Perhaps more than anything, being with a cat will put a smile on your face.
Whether your kitty is chasing a toy around the room, jumping three feet in the air before running around the house because she heard a funny sound, or just purring in your lap, you’ll always have a smile-maker handy when you’re around your cat.
Which is useful, because smiling is fun. And makes you feel better!
9 | A Companionship To Battle Loneliness
When you become a pet parent to a cat, loneliness can become a thing of the past.
If you're sitting in a chair feeling down about life, chances are your cat will sense this and jump up in your lap to be petted.
As a result, you'll be able to see your problems in a different light and realize you've got at least one friend in this world, even if it happens to be a furry four-legged one that needs its litter box changed.
In fact, cats are used to significantly reduce the feelings of loneliness in seniors.
If for some reason you aren’t convinced, you can check out an infographic we created on this exact subject! It has 22 ways cats make us happy and healthy, which we think would convince even the grumpiest of souls to consider adopting one!
about the author
Emily Parker lives with her fiancee and two black cats, Gus and Louis, in eastern Canada. She is incredibly grateful to her cats and to meditation for helping her to process some dark times, and see the light again. She now loves to explore her city on foot to find the cutest cafes and outdoor kitties, and when she’s got a spare moment or two, she loves to help cat parents love their cats better at her site, Catological.com.