6 Ways Cats Make Your Life Better
While dogs may be man's best friend, cats have proven to bestow quite a few unique benefits of their own to make our lives just a little bit better.
Owning a pet is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Beyond the companionship they offer, the very act of caring for them offers its own set of rewards -- from helping with depression to decreasing your risk of certain illnesses.
If you're more of a cat person than a dog person, you're not alone. 45 percent of households in the United States have a cat, according to the American Pet Products Association. There are actually more cats as pets than dogs -- 95.6 million for 83.3 million.
Here are some of the many reasons cats are great pets:
- Cats as Heart Protectors
Did you know that cat ownership may reduce your risk of a heart attack? In a 10-year study of more than 4,000 Americans by the University of Minnesota's Stroke Institute, where some participants had cats and some did not, researchers discovered that cat owners were 30 percent less likely to die from a heart attack than non-cat owners. Even those who used to own a cat were also found less likely to have fatal heart disease.
- Cats as Healers
Additional research on the health benefits of cats suggest a cat's purr may be the source of curative treatment. The frequency and vibration of purrs may help speed up healing for broken bones and soft tissues, as well as muscle, tendon and ligament injuries. In research published by the New Zealand Veterinary Journal, cat purring was also found to help treat dyspnea, a condition that makes it difficult to breathe.
- Cats as Counselors
"Cats make great therapists," says Gus Elving, owner of Pet Peeps, a Washington DC-based pet sitting company. "You hear a lot about therapy dogs, but there are also therapy cats."
They visit hospitals, schools, nursing homes, etc., comforting people in need. There are even tales of cats helping kids with autism, such as Iris Grace Halmshaw.
- Cats as Defenders of the House
Unwanted intruders like mice, rats and even bugs are immediately dealt with by your warrior cat, who will never allow such pesky nuisances to make a home in yours.
"Not all tame cats are prolific hunters, but almost all will bring your attention to household pests like mice, rats and large insects," said Elving. "If you're lucky, they'll take care of the problem for you. And at the very least, they'll alert you to the problem so you can call in the professionals."
- Cats as Internet Sensations
It's almost impossible to go a week without seeing a new internet meme, video or photo showing the crazy antics of these beloved critters. Elving wholeheartedly agrees.
"Cats definitely keep the Internet interesting. From weekly Caturday celebrations to everyday doses of cute on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds, the Internet can't get enough of cats. In a time when so much of what we're bombarded with online and offline is tragedy and horror, funny cat pictures or videos provide much-needed levity and a break from the more serious stuff we're dealing with day in and day out."
- Cats as Generally Great
"Cats are sweet souls that love us unconditionally," said Shannon Walajtys, an animal disaster rescue manager at the International Fund for Animal Welfare. "Our five rescue cats greet us each day with purrs and snuggles. We can't imagine life without them. As I travel around the world responding to disasters with IFAW, I see cats are always part of families and owners will do anything to save them. Cats may appear aloof to us at times, but I think that is their way of saying thank you, for we have made them happy, healthy and confident in this crazy world."
When National Cat Day rolls around on October 29th, make sure you let your cat know how much he or she is appreciated!
Lilian M. Raji is a strategic marketing and public relations adviser for luxury lifestyle companies. Equally passionate about writing as she is developing and executing business strategy, she enjoys freelance writing for various print and online publications. A dog lover at heart, she's been wooed into cat adoration by her brother's four tabby cats.