Benefits of Cat Ownership

Many people feel that a house only becomes a home when a cat lives there. Here are some benefits to cat ownership which will surprise even the most devoted of cat-people.

If your family includes a cat, you’re in good company. Cats are popular pets and they bring much love and joy to their human companions. In fact, according to a recent ACAC study, more than two million of them share our homes across Australia.

Pet ownership in general, and cat ownership in particular can improve your quality of life. Dr. Bradley Smith, one of many scientists who study human-animal relationships, recognises these positive impacts as something he call the “Pet Effect.”

Companionship

The most common reason to keep a pet is for companionship, so this benefit won’t come as a surprise to anyone. People who don’t have a cat in their lives often believe that cats are unsocial, distant pets. If you’ve ever been the recipient of an affectionate head-bunt from a friendly kitty, you know that the “unsocial” myth is indeed a myth. Cats are not the solitary animals that they had been believed to be.

Exercise

Cats might not need much exercise, compared to dogs and rabbits, but they do like to play with their human companions. Tossing a toy mouse around the living room can get you moving a bit, too.

Nurturing

People sometimes accuse their friends of turning their pet into a substitute child. By replacing a child or younger sibling as “something to nurture”, a pet often does serve that need. In today’s smaller families, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Everybody needs somebody to love, furry or otherwise.

Empathy

It might be noticed more with dogs, but children who grow up with cats appear to have more practice with considering what other people are thinking and feeling. This experience of  empathy helps children learn to relate to other people, and to consider their actions in light of how those actions will affect others.

Purring

Petting a cat who’s curled up and purring on your lap is a great way to lower stress and blood pressure. In fact, recent studies have shown that the frequency (or the “pitch”: how high or low the purr sounds to you) of a cat’s purr helps bones and muscles to heal after an injury.

Medical Benefits

Earlier discharges from the hospital, fewer times when visits to the doctor’s office are needed, and lower levels of stress overall are some of the benefits that some researchers have found. Having a cat might also lower your risk of heart disease more than going on a low-salt diet would do, if current research proves to be true.

What does this mean?

Even when social status, income level, and location are taken into account, many studies still showed a measurable advantage to having a pet such as a cat.

Of course you wouldn’t adopt a cat only because you know that keeping a pet is good for your health. A cat is a big responsibility.  These benefits are just more reasons for you to love that pet.