Being called a “crazy cat lady” used to be a negative thing, usually reserved for single women with a house full of cats. But it turns out there are plenty of good reasons to actually embrace being a “crazy cat person.” Where did that expression come from, anyway? According to NBC News:
“Besides medieval hysteria about witches and their trusty black sidekicks, some of this fear may have stemmed from the notion that toxoplasmosis — an infection caused by a parasite found in cat feces (along with undercooked meat and contaminated water) could cause people to lose their minds. People like cat ladies.
But a recent study published in the journal Psychological Medicine found no link between cat ownership and any sort of psychosis later in life.
“The Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 60 million people in the United States may be infected with the Toxoplasma parasite through all means, including cats,” says David Haworth, doctor of veterinary medicine, Ph.D., and president of PetSmart Charities, “but very few people show symptoms because a healthy person’s immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness.”
In fact, it turns out that the cats in our lives are doing the opposite of making us crazy. They actually may be improving our health.”
Let’s take a look at all the ways that cats improve our lives.
#1 – Cat lovers are smart and sensitive
A 2014 survey found that cat lovers were more intelligent and more sensitive than dog lovers, who tended to be more outgoing and active. Psychoanalyst Steve McKeown, the founder of MindFixers and the owner of The McKeown Clinic, told vt:
“Cat people are more likely to possess university degrees than dog owners. Educated people tend to work longer hours and opt for pets that compliment their personal circumstances and lifestyle.”
Okay, so maybe owning a cat doesn’t necessarily make your smarter, but lots of intelligent people choose cats over dogs. That’s still a win for cat lovers!
#2 – They keep your heart healthy
A study published in 2008 by researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Stroke Institute followed nearly 4,500 people, of which 3 out of 5 people owned a cat for 10 years. They found that the cat owners were 30% less likely to die from a heart attack than people who didn’t own cats. A follow-up study published the next year confirmed that cat owners were less likely to die from any cardiovascular event, including a stroke, than people who didn’t own cats. This may be due in part to the next item on the list…
#3 – Cat purrs help reduce stress
According to MNN, studies have shown that cats are better at reducing stress and lowering blood pressure than any other pet. The frequency of their purr has been shown to have many medical benefits for both the cats themselves and their owners. According to Scientific American:
“Scientists have demonstrated that cats produce the purr through intermittent signaling of the laryngeal and diaphragmatic muscles. Cats purr during both inhalation and exhalation with a consistent pattern and frequency between 25 and 150 Hertz. Various investigators have shown that sound frequencies in this range can improve bone density and promote healing.”
#4 – They make you laugh
More research is emerging all the time showing the health benefits of laughing. One study showed that watching funny videos for 20 minutes significantly reduced people’s levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. It also helped them perform better on a memory recall test.
Another study showed that a sense of humor can protect against heart disease. Anybody who has ever spent any time on YouTube – or ever owned a cat – knows how hilarious the antics of a cat can be. So the next time your cat misses a jump, know that they’re doing their part to extend your life – and the quality of your life.
#5 – Cats can help people with autism communicate
A French study showed that children with autism who were introduced to a family pet at the age of 4 or 5 showed major improvements in the areas of sharing with others and comforting people in distress. Some people of every age with autism report feeling more strongly bonded to animals than other people. One theory is that since petting a cat releases oxytocin, or the “feel-good hormone,” people with autism start to feel more comfortable communicating with people.
#6 – They can help you fight the demon of depression
There are a variety of ways in which pets in general, and cats in particular, can help people with depression. The responsibility of keeping something alive is a great way to promote positive mental health. Hiding from the world isn’t as much of an option when something relies on you for all of its needs to be met. Touch has many proven health benefits, and petting an animal seems to be just as helpful as getting a hug from a friend or a 45-minute massage.
Pets can also help distract us from our emotional pain. They also offer unconditional love and acceptance. And all this is on top of the other health benefits of owning a cat.
#7 – Owning a cat helps you feel less lonely
Pets have been shown to help reduce feelings of loneliness. They can fulfill people’s social needs as well as another human. They’re the perfect listeners who will never interrupt as you talk about your bad day. There’s also always someone who’s excited to see you come home.
#8 – They may help prevent allergies in kids
It’s been shown that kids who are exposed to pets in the first year of their lives are significantly less likely to develop allergies when they grow up. It’s thought that giving the immune system something natural to work on helps it develop normally and not react to things that aren’t actually dangerous.
#9 – Cats are cheaper to care for than dogs
According to the ASPCA, cats are cheaper to own than dogs. Owning a cat rather than a dog could save you anywhere from $300 to $800 a year.
#10 – They’re experts on the benefits of napping
Napping may be perceived as lazy, but there are actually many health benefits to taking a short nap in the middle of the day. Who better to model the benefits of napping than a cat? According to Huffington Post:
“These serious snoozers not only value the importance of sleep but also look adorable doing it! Studies have shown that indulging in a little midday shut-eye can work wonders for your alertness, memory, creativity, productivity and overall mood. So if you won’t make time for a nap solo, maybe the opportunity to curl up next to your furry friend will convince you to take a cozy 20-minute rest today.”