A blonde woman cuddling with a grey and white cat, looking content and happy.
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Top 8 Health Benefits of Having a Cat

Thinking about adopting a cat? Do it! And if you need any reason beyond a feline friend’s cuteness to convince someone you live with, try one of these eight health benefits that can come with pet parenthood. A potentially longer, healthier life should make up for all those chewed-up shoelaces, litter box cleaning sessions, and hairballs, right?

How cats benefit human health

Woman snuggling a black and white cat on the couch.
(Photo Credit: Westend61 / Getty Images)

More physical activity

Cats are naturally curious and playful creatures, and their energy can be contagious. Whether it’s engaging in interactive play sessions or simply keeping up with their daily antics, having a cat means increased physical activity. From chasing laser pointers to dangling feather toys, these activities not only entertain your feline friend but also get you moving. Engaging in playtime with a cat can involve stretching, bending, and reaching — promoting flexibility and enhancing muscle strength.

Less stress

Sure, it can be stressful to have pets when you’re afraid one might be sick or you can’t figure out how to get them to stop breaking your blinds, but overall, pets are known to reduce stress. Cortisol is a hormone activated by stress, and studies have found that being around pets can decrease cortisol levels.

Lower blood pressure

Can you feel your blood pressure start to rise when stress creeps into your life? Along with medications and lifestyle changes, a pet can help with hypertension. A study of stockbrokers found that having a cat or dog helped lower the spikes in blood pressure that happen when a person is stressed.

Lower risk of heart attacks

Good news, cat parents: Your little furball could be fighting off heart disease for you. Studies have found that people with cats were 40 percent less likely to have a fatal heart attack. It’s unclear whether the cat’s calming effects make the difference or whether people who choose cats as pets are less at risk for heart disease to begin with. Either way, if you’re a cat person, you’re in luck!

Alleviate depression

You’ve probably realized that your pets can make you smile when you’re just feeling a bit down, but even those of us suffering from diagnosed depression can reap these mood-lifting benefits. The National Institute of Mental Health recognizes animal-assisted therapy as a treatment for depression and other mood disorders because pets can have a positive effect on depression.

Allergy prevention

A 7-year study of almost 500 children found that children who were exposed to dogs and cats as babies were half as likely to have allergies and risk factors for asthma as they grew up than those who had no pets. Infants with more than one pet in the home had the lowest risk of allergies. So, even though you might have to be cautious with cats around babies to make sure they don’t become aggressive around the little ones, having a cat around could benefit your child in the long run.

Less risk of stroke

This must be payment for the number of times you’ve had to clean out that disgusting litter box: having a cat cuts a person’s risk of having a stroke by more than a third. Researchers theorize that petting a cat can lower stress or that the type of people who own cats are more stress-free naturally. Whatever the reason, you should probably go adopt a pet just to be on the safe side.

Decreased sense of loneliness and isolation

Having a cat can be a powerful antidote to feelings of loneliness and isolation. In a world that often seems increasingly disconnected, cats provide steadfast companionship and a sense of purpose. Their presence brings warmth and comfort to your life, offering you unwavering support and unconditional love. Whether it’s curling up together on the couch, sharing playful moments, or simply being in the same room, the company of a cat can alleviate loneliness. Your feline friend’s gentle purrs and soothing presence create a calming atmosphere. With a cat by your side, you’ll never have to face life alone.

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