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Benefits of Cat Ownership

| December 26, 2011
Benefits of Cat Ownership

Scientific studies over the last 20 years have shown that pet owners are generally healthier than non pet owners

Cats have been associated with humans for at least 4,000 years – in ancient Egypt, their role in controlling rodents in grain was so important that cats were even worshipped as gods.

These days, over 31% of Australian households own a cat, and this probably has more to do with their popularity as companions than their ability to answer prayers. Cat owners receive many benefits from that companionship.

Scientific studies over the last 20 years have shown that pet owners are generally healthier than non pet owners – they suffer fewer minor illnesses and complaints, have better phychological health scores, and generally an improved overall feeling of “wellbeing”. The recent National People and Pets survey showed pet owners also visit the doctor significantly less.

Children who are raised with pets have a higher self esteem, and learn nurturing and social skills, as well as a sense of responsibility for others. Pets have been used very successfully as adjuncts to therapy, and the benefits to an elderly person of sitting with a cat curled up on the bed cannot be overestimated.

But perhaps the most compelling evidence for the benefits of cats came from a study of over 5,000 people conducted by the Baker Medical Research Institue in 1992 which found that cat owners (and dog owners) have significantly lower risk factors for heart disease than non cat owners, and that’s despite the fact that they drink more alcohol.
The key to these benefits is to be found in their unique qualities as companions.

Cats are extremely tactile, or “touchy” animals, and love to be patted and stroked, or just lie contentedly in the lap of their owners. Touch is a basic requirement for humans, as it is for all social species, and the companionship of a cat can be especially important for people who live alone.

Cats are also very entertaining, retaining a kitten-like playfulness and curiosity well into adulthood. People gain hours of relaxing pleasure watching their cats play, or just sitting listening to them purr. This relaxation is probably one of the major clues to the cat’s health effects – cats provide an easy antidote to the stresses of modern life.

The relative ease of care of a cat makes it the preferred pet in many circumstances. Cats do not need formal exercise as they will exercise themselves during play, and they can live comfortably in much smaller spaces than most dogs. Add the fact that they are naturally clean and fastidious animals, and it can be seen they are ideal pets for busy lifestyles. Cats also sleep two thirds of the day and will save their active time for when owners get home – an added bonus.

The same advantages apply to the elderly or incapacitated, who may not be able to meet the care needs of owning a dog.

Of course, most people don’t own cats just because they are practical. Cats have a certain character or personality which is distinctly their own. They are friendly and affectionate, yet retain an individuality and grace. most people own cats for the sheer joy of their “catness”.

Copyright & Credit:

© CATMATCH Reprinted as a courtesy and with permission from Catmatch www.cat-match.com.au CATMATCH began with an idea to help reduce the tens of thousands of cats and kittens that are put to sleep each year because they can’t find a home and someone to care for them. And yet there are people like you who would enjoy life with a cat.

Photo copyright and courtesy: Marcelo Camargo

Category: Feline Articles, Feline Health and Care, Feline Resources

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