Published:  01:26 AM, 03 January 2020

Owning a cat is good for you

 Owning a cat is good for you

The benefits of adopting a feline friend, according to scientific research. As a shameless, self-professed cat lady, I don't need more reasons to believe cats make amazing pets. But for the skeptics who need scientific proof, I've rounded up some of the ways your health and life in general can actually improve with a feline friend.
1. Cats make great companions.

An Austrian study found cats can be just as affectionate as their canine counterparts and make lovable companions for women in particular. Scientists observed 41 cats and their families and found felines were more likely to initiate contact with and jump onto the laps of women over men. Still not convinced cats are lovable beings? You just need to know how to interact with them. They see cuddling as a two-way street - if you interact with cats when they want to, they're more likely to allow you to interact with them when you want to.

2. They help your heart.

Cats can help keep your stress level down and your heart healthy. A study found that over a 10-year period, there was a lower risk for death due to cardiovascular diseases in cat owners compared to participants who did not own a cat. Because cats are lap animals, just petting them can help bring down your stress level, heart rate and blood pressure.

3. They're eco-friendly.

Want to help lower your carbon footprint? Owning a cat - instead of a dog - can help. A study found that the resources it takes to feed a medium-sized dog over the course of its life is comparable to the manufacturing and fueling of an SUV. In comparison, a cat's ecological pawprint was roughly the same as a Volkswagen Golf.

4. Their purrs have potential healing powers.

There is more to a cat's purring than you think. Yes, it can be a sign of happiness or duress, but it can also have therapeutic benefits for our bones and muscles. It all has to do with the frequency of their purr vibrations, which, when in the frequency ranges of 25-55 Hz, can help promote bone strength. These vibrations are also helpful for healing soft tissue.

5. They can be your mental health heroes.

Dogs usually get all the praise when it comes to being emotional support animals for people who have mental illness. While those traits are helpful for people in the beginning stages of therapy, they're unrealistic when it comes to helping someone with social skills issues, anxiety, family-related conflicts or boundary issues. Whereas a dog is more likely to tolerate most types of behaviours from us, cats will not.

Their intolerance to aggressive actions (like yelling or rough housing) reminds us that's not an appropriate or healthy way to interact. Cats will assert or remove themselves from situations in which they feel threatened or uncomfortable and it's this trait that helps people with such types of behavioural issues learn how to interact and build positive, healthy relationships. Furthermore, petting a cat and being able to focus on that rhythmic motion can be super helpful to those struggling with PTSD and anxiety.

6. They may help you find the one (or at least a nice date).

Attention all single men! Are you having trouble getting a quality date? A cat can help you with that. According to research conducted by leading pet researcher and psychologist Dr. June McNicholas, 82% of both single and taken women were more attracted to men if they liked animals, and over 90% of single women found men to be nicer and more caring if they liked cats.

7. Because cat owners are smart.

Relax, dog owners-it's science. A 2010 survey of pet ownership conducted by the University of Bristol found that people with cats are more likely than dog owners to have university degrees. Most recently, in 2014, a survey conducted among 600 college students in Wisconsin found that cat owners were smarter, too. But, of course, it's not the actual feline itself that's making you smarter. The Bristol study stated that because more educated people tend to work longer hours, cats were the more suitable pet for their busy lifestyle.
 

The writer is a freelancer

---Linda Cotrina

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