Cats rule, and dogs drool. And before you come at me, dog owners, I’m sorry — it’s just a fact.
OK, OK. There’s no reason to argue about which pets are the best, because we already know there are so manybenefits to having any kind of animal in your life (and we already know that cats win).
The truth is that all pet owners know that their furry (or feathery or scaly or what have you) friends only make their lives better. But cat owners have science on their side.
That’s right — owning a cat is so good for you, there are actual, proven, scientific benefits. Ready to see exactly how your purry, biscuit-making buddy has been improving your life? Here’s what science has to say about the subject.
Take Care of Your Cat As Well As She Takes Care of You
Before we get into the science, one quick note. Your cat provides all these scientific benefits for you — what are you doing to protect and care for your cat?
One way to give your cat the best possible life is by using a Huan Smart Tag to ensure that he or she can be found quickly and safely if they ever go missing. Huan tags are small, lightweight, and use bluetooth technology to track your cat’s location in real time via the Huan smartphone app. Millions of pet owners can’t be wrong — it’s the best was to get peace of mind that your beloved pet is safe from getting lost.
The Scientific Benefits of Being a Cat Owner
Anywhere between 10 and 30 percent of people call themselves “cat people.” Not dog people. Not equal-opportunity lovers of all animals. Just cat people.
And naturally, some scientists were a little confused by that. After all, cats seem generally ungrateful for our love and affection. They can go from enjoying a belly rub to digging sharp claws and teeth into your skin without any warning whatsoever. And then there’s all the barfing — seriously, what makes cats throw up so much?
In other words, scientists wondered what makes people love these little animals that can be emotionally volatile, messy, and don’t seem to appreciate a single thing their human subjects do for them.
And those scientists actually found out more than they bargained for. It turns out there are a ton of ways cats make our lives better. They make us happier. They make us healthier. And it’s all been proven (or at least supported) by science.
Cats Can Help You Sleep Better
Most people don’t associate cats with good sleep.
They have a bad rap for waking their owners up at the crack of dawn for breakfast, or making noise all night with their nocturnal antics. But science actually shows that sharing your sleeping space with a cat (especially one that cuddles and purrs) can help you get better sleep. In one study, 41 percent of people reported sleeping better with their pets by their side.
Cats Can Calm You Down
One thing you probably never expected your cat to be is an instant anti-anxiety tool. But that’s exactly what cats can be, according to science.
Studies have shown that because cats appear less dependent on their humans than other types of pets, we tend to see them as a strongly calming presence in our lives. Cat owners have been shown to have lower blood pressure and resting heart rates, and in one study, were more likely to be able to respond to challenges without feeling threatened or overwhelmed.
Cats Can Improve Your Mental Health
Want to be happier overall? You need a cat, according to science.
An Australian study showed that cat owners largely were more psychologically healthy than people without pets. The people who owned cats reported being more happy, more confident, and less nervous.
Another study showed that people with cats reported fewer negative emotions than people without cats. They reported being in a bad mood less often than even people with other kinds of pets.
Cats Can Reduce Loneliness
Who needs humans for company? Pets can make great companions, and science shows they reduce loneliness and feelings of seclusion in their owners.
Besides the obvious benefits — when you’re lonely, you can play with, talk to, or cuddle with your cat — one study showed that owning a cat made kids feel less sad and lonely, and made them better enjoy time spent alone, compared to kids who didn’t have cats. We’re sure those benefits extend to grown-ups, too.
Cats Can Help You Make Friends
There’s a stereotype that “crazy cat ladies” are socially awkward, but according to science, that’s very far from the truth.
Multiple studies have shown that cat owners are more socially sensitive, trust people more, and like people more than non-pet owners. Yet another study showed that kids who had cats as pets were better at communicating with their human friends.
“Pets appear to act as ‘social catalysts,’ inducing social contact between people,” that study’s author wrote. “A pet can be accepting, openly affectionate, consistent, loyal, and honest, characteristics that can fulfill a person’s basic need to feel a sense of self-worth and loved.”
Cats Can Entertain You For Hours
Anyone who’s ever played with an energetic cat knows just how entertaining they can be.
Cats are natural-born hunters with fierce prey drives, and that means that a ball, a feather, or a piece of string can have them jumping, pouncing, and chasing for hours. Most cats are perfectly content to play by themselves with any object that can be batted across the floor, giving their humans plenty to watch and laugh at.
Cats Can Encourage You to Get Up and Play
What’s even better about how playful our feline friends can be is that they encourage their owners to get up and play, too. Sure, you’re probably not going to get as much aerobic exercise with a cat as you would with a dog. But running around the house with a toy on a string, even for just 10 or 15 minutes a day, can provide more exercise benefits than you might think.
Cats Can Encourage You to Rest and Take Naps
On the other hand, sometimes the best way to practice some good, old-fashioned self care is to take a nap. Studies have shown that most house cats sleep around 16 hours a day, so if you need some encouragement to slow down and get some shuteye, just look to your cat, an expert at cat naps who would love to take a snooze with you at any time of the day.
Cats Have Lower Carbon Footprints Than Dogs
Just another benefit to choosing a cat over a dog: It’s better for the earth. A 2009 study found that the carbon footprint of owning a dog was about the equivalent of driving a Hummer. On the other hand, owning a cat was like owning a Volkswagen with reduced carbon emissions. Neither pet is perfect, but cats are contributing less to climate change than dogs.
Cats Can Fight Depression
Now for the actual medical benefits of cat ownership — and there are a lot of them. It turns out that owning a cat is exceptionally good for your overall health, both mental and physical.
First up: Mental health. Because they tend to increase happiness and decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation, studies have shown that cats can help alleviate some of the symptoms of clinical depression, since they’re exacerbated by those things.
Cats Can Lower Your Blood Pressure
Aside from their mental health benefits, cats can have a positive effect on our physical health, too.
Studies have shown that cat owners have lower blood pressure on average, and that stroking a cat can release hormones that tell our bodies to calm down, lower their heart rates, and lower blood pressure even more. As an added bonus, most cats find stroking to be calming and enjoyable, too.
Cats Can Reduce Your Risk of a Stroke
Studies have shown that people who own cats have greatly reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and strokes.
A 2009 study showed that people who currently own cats are at far less risk of cardiovascular problems, and that even people who owned cats in the past but don’t any longer have less risk of these kinds of diseases. The scientists who worked on that study attributed their subjects’ better health to the fact that cats reduce stress and blood pressure, putting less strain on the cardiovascular system over a lifetime and allowing it to stay healthy long term.
Cats Can Lower Your Cholesterol and Triglycerides
That same 2009 study showed yet another surprising cardiovascular benefit to having a cat as a pet: They lower your cholesterol and triglycerides. In fact, researchers found that in some cases, getting a cat was more effective at bringing patients’ high cholesterol into a normal range than using medication meant to lower cholesterol.
Scientists aren’t exactly sure why cats have this particular benefit for their owners, but there’s no question that owning a cat has positive effects on your overall health.
Cats Can Help Heal Bone and Muscle Injuries
If you ever injure a bone or muscle or suffer from a minor wound, add this surprising step to your treatment plan: Cuddling with a cat.
Cats purr at a frequency between 20 and 140 Hz, which studies have shown can help promote better bone density and help minor injuries heal faster. In other words, your cat’s purr has literal healing powers.
Cats Can Help You Fight Off Allergies and Asthma
Well, cats unfortunately can’t do much for your existing allergies. But if you want your children to avoid them, get a cat.
In 2002, the National Institutes of Health released a study that showed that kids who were exposed to cats regularly when they were under a year old were less likely to suffer from all kinds of allergies — in addition to pet dander, those kids were less likely to have dust mite, ragweed, grass, and other allergies.
Cats Can Help You Live Longer
With all those health benefits, it’s no wonder that cat owners live longer than those who don’t have feline friends in their lives. That just means you have plenty of time to continue to enjoy all the benefits of being a cat lover.
Can’t Have a Cat? Even Just Watching Cat Videos Can Be Good for You
Not everyone can have a cat — we understand what a serious commitment any pet is, and why it’s not for everyone.
But if you’d like to reap some of the benefits of having a cat in your life, even if you’re not up for the task of caring for one, just queue up some cat videos online. A 2015 study from the University of Indiana showed that watching cat videos gave people an instant mood and energy boost, and decreased their negative feelings throughout the day.