Despite the cliche of the “crazy cat lady,” studies are proving that cats don’t make you crazy; in fact, they’re actually good for your health.
Research published in the journal Psychological Medicine showed no correlation between having a cat and developing psychosis. While the CDC estimates that around 60 million people in the United States may be infected with toxoplasmosis (a parasite that can be found in cat feces that can affect how people think), very few people show any symptoms. Those with compromised immune systems and pregnant women should still be careful, but the average healthy adult will not become “crazy.” In fact, there are many proven health benefits to having cats.
#1 – They can help prevent allergies
Studies have shown that babies who are exposed to pets before they are a year old are much less likely to develop allergies as they get older. Veterinarian Dr. David Haworth, chair of the Research Working Group at the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, said:
“The theory is that by giving the immune system something natural to work on, it develops in a healthy, normal manner and isn’t always overreacting to non-dangerous stimuli.”
So not only is there no need to get rid of your cat if you become pregnant, it would actually benefit your baby to have a pet while their immune system is growing.
#2 – Cats prevent loneliness
Cats provide companionship that can stave off loneliness. According to Psychology Today:
“In adults, loneliness is a major precipitant of depression and alcoholism. And it increasingly appears to be the cause of a range of medical problems, some of which take decades to show up.”
Cats are shown to help decrease feelings of loneliness, especially in senior citizens. That makes owning a cat very good for your health!
#3 – They can reduce your stress levels
Petting your cat releases oxytocin in your brain. Oxytocin is often referred to as “the love hormone,” and it’s related to empathy, generosity, and pair bonding. This makes you feel good and helps reduce your stress levels. Lower levels of stress translate into improved levels of health.
#4 – Cats are good for your heart
That’s right. Owning a cat can decrease your risk of dying from a heart attack. Studies have shown that pets can help reduce stress and blood pressure, which leads to a reduction in the risk of suffering from a heart attack or stroke by more than a third.
(H/T: NBC News)