Felines are Good Medicine: Living with Cats Bolsters our Health

Being surrounded by cats is a sheer delight. Living with felines is an awesome experience; a statement with which I am sure that no avid kitty lover will disagree. Cats bring us an incredible amount of joy; give us an abundance of unconditional love and endless hours of fascinating entertainment.

Tabby kitten

Photo credit: Flickr User: Felipe_Borges

However, it’s not just only the simple pleasures that we derive from being being owned by cats; living with kitties offers us some amazing side effects. While many drug side-effects are extremely unpleasant; happily the delicious side effects of cat companionship can bolster and improve our health.

After doing extensive research, scientists are proving that living with cats is beneficial to heart health. Researchers at the University of Minnesota looked at nearly 4,500 people between the age of 30 and 75. They discovered that kitty guardians enjoyed a 40 percent lower risk of having a heart attack and 30 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease.

The researchers concluded that interacting with cats has a stress-lowering effect on humans. Additionally, in one of their studies on patients discharged from a Coronary Care Unit, the researchers found that these patients had a better rate of survival over the following year if they had a pet kitty to which they could come home.

Having cats helps us to better connect with others. In a French study, researchers discovered a substance called oxytocin. Oxytocin is stress-lowering hormone which is often referred to as the “love hormone“. They found this hormone was of great benefit to mildly autistic children and adults.

Oxytocin helped to make them feel more relaxed and to be able to more easily socialize with others. In fact, researchers are claiming that petting a cat helps to increase oxytocin – engendering more feelings of love, trust and ability to connect. The results of the study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Kitty guardians will attest to the fact that watching cats playing together can be downright amusing. Their comical antics generally provide us with some side-slapping belly laughs. Since “laughter is the best medicine”, it only makes sense that researchers are finding that these diminutive comedians strengthen our immune system.

According to a study performed at Loma Linda University, it turns out that laughter does help to boost the levels of disease-fighting immunoglobins by at least 14 percent. Since kitty-watching often chases away the doldrums, apparently cats might be thought of as diminutive physicians in furry coats who can render us emotional “tune ups”. Even watching funny cat videos is good for the brain1.

Scientists are now proving a fact that we as kitty guardians have been aware of for a very long time; that having cats can alleviate loneliness and reduce depression and anxiety and offers people a very special and lasting friendships.

Since researchers are finding that having cats makes us healthier, without the nasty side-effects and the scary warning labels on medicine bottles, this delightful “drug” appears to be the “cat’s Meow”. However, this leaves me wondering if my prescription drug insurance will cover its cost.

What health benefits have you observed from being owned by cats? Please share your experience in a comment. You can bet your bottom dollar I will use them as a backup the next time I submit an insurance form.


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Felines are Good Medicine: Living with Cats Bolsters our Health — 17 Comments

  1. I often called Charlie to come to me when I’m working in bed and sometimes he comes although he takes his time.

    Then he comes up to me and lies across my legs. He knows the routine. Then everything slows down and I groom him with a fine comb and he then sleeps across my legs and everything is right with the world the 20 min. I usually end up surfing the Internet while he is doing that and occasionally petting him and talking to him.

    I am not sure I could do without a cat now. They become part of one’s life. It is more than health really. It is a way of life.

  2. I’m positive that my heart health is due to caring for cats. I had a heart catheterization about 4 years ago and was told that I have the arteries and function of a 20 year old.
    I attribute it all to the loving relationship that I have with cats and nature, constant motion (I actually sit for a meal about 4 times a year), and a nearly no meat lifestyle.
    I, also, believe that most any sense of wellbeing that I feel is because of cats.
    They, truly, are my happy heart.

  3. Dee, Well SAID.

    Cats truly are the best medicine. As Michael said, I don’t think I could ever live happily without cats. They give us so much pleasure and love- how can we be unhappy when they are around? They surely chase away stress and upset better than anything!

  4. I am living proof as a bachelor with two cats that cats are beneficial to human living.I have also noticed the change in behaviour of my house-keeper who looks after my cats, her time engrossed looking after these non-human children.According to me the soft “PURR” of the cat is one of the most soothing sounds to a cat owners ears, akin to a musical note.

  5. Same Felines are great and have made my life much better. Even before I had Cats, I found life rather depressing, and kind of boring. I felt Cats Helped me do things, they have helped with my mental health, helped me wake up early to have meds. Their love is totally unconditional, and dont judge. Often they know when im sad or down or disappointed. My life is a joy having cats wouldn’t have it any other way.

  6. I have several health issues that are an ongoing problems one of them is high blood pressure. I can say without a doubt that my cat Sienna helps to keep it in the healthy range. When I get upset she will do something silly that makes me laugh or she will demand pets in an effort to get me to slow down and chill out. Overall, all the cats I have had in my life have been a blessing. I can’t imagine my life without a cat in it. Well I can but it makes me sad to think of it.

  7. Cats are better than any tonic and give us a reason for living when everything seems hopeless, we’ve had some bad times and our cats have always been a great comfort thoughout them.
    To me anyone’s home feels empty without a cat in it, I can’t imagine my life without cats in it now either.

  8. Great article and great posts, every one! There isn’t much I can add except to reinforce every single statement and thought, and say that I credit my cats with much that is good in my life, literally from conception to the present time. I’ve always enjoyed freedom from most sicknesses and illnesses that a lot of people get frequently; cats also “center” me and keep me going day to day, no matter what else is going on in life, because I know we are there for one another and that they depend on me to ensure their wellbeing (as I do on them). The pure, unconditional loyalty and love they show me every moment of every day can’t be matched by anyone else; and of course their silliness means I can’t be down for long, no matter what else might be happening!

  9. It is very hard to stay stressed when you are caressing your cats! All I have to do is lay down for a nap and my personal bed four legged fur partner is there in a heart beat. I might add that she allows the dogs on the bed at the same time with me. lol

  10. I second everything that has been said already. Here’s my version of the same story:

    Whenever I’m tired and lie down on the bed, before long I hear Shakti leaping up to join me. Now that she’s an old lady, she’s become very fussy about how she likes to be petted, but if I just stroke her ever so lightly, soon I feel that wonderful deep vibration, and both of us drift into a mellow, meditative state. After a few minutes, I feel refreshed. I think she does too. It’s definitely a win-win relationship.

    • So GREAT to see you here again, CousinJudy.Shakti sounds like a wonderful healing kitty for you.

      I wonder what cats meditate about! That’s an interesting thought!

  11. in 2011 when i broke my arm and totally shattered the humerus my cats alternated lying up against my arm and purring non-stop for 4 – 6 hour sessions. when one got tired of doing it, someone else took over. two weeks later when they took the third set of xrays of my arm, the PA was shocked when he saw that my right arm had totally healed. he even dragged out the xrays from 17 days before to prove — not only to himself, but all the other PA’s and MA’s in the room — that the humerus had been totally shattered in the fall of april 28th, yet by may 21st it had totally healed.

    • anniegoose! I have heard tell that a cat’s purr can help heal broken bones!

      So glad that your kitty helped you to heal!

    • I have read that purring can stimulate healing. It is one of the reasons cats purr– to heal themselves. They purred to heal you. That’s amazing.

  12. when i told one of my SIL’s about what my cats had done for me she told me about the research that the swedes have been doing for about 10 years and referred me to Scientific American — i think the article was published in 2010.

  13. Cats sure are a positive part of our lives. A few years ago I adopted out a calico cat named Molly McButter. She went to a senior couple, both in their 90s. FOr two years Molly was their companion. The couple’s doctor was surprised when the couple showed signs of improved health. THey both had lower blood pressure etc.. Sadly Molly had to come back to us when the couple could no long care for her properly. Molly proved that she could be a health benifit. Our local humane society has a Seniors for Senios program. THey adopt adult cats and dogs to senior citizens. There is a guarentee that the pet will be cared for in case the animal has to be returned. Love the health benifits we get from our furry kids.

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