Scientifically Proven Ways That Living With Cats Enriches the Human Body and Mind

Written by on October 17, 2019 in Animals and Pets, Conscious Living with 0 Comments

By Emily Parker |

What is the one thing you want most of all in life but never seem to have enough of?

To hear Forbes tell it if you are like most modern homo sapiens today, you probably answered “happiness.”

Peace, joy, confidence, freedom, money (of course), balance and fulfillment also topped the Forbes “most wanted” list. Acquiring these elements in our lives can feel so…..impossible. But what if it could be easy? What if you could find nearly all of these precious life gifts in one purring armful of fur?

Science says this is absolutely possible. Pet ownership in general – and cat ownership in particular – can provide so much enrichment and nourishment, connection and calm, and you don't have to do anything differently or change anything about yourself to get it.

If this sounds good to you, read on to learn more about scientifically proven ways that living with cats can enrich your body, mind, heart, and spirit!

Who Rescued Who? The Science of Animal Therapy

There is a reason so many of the bumpers just ahead of you on the freeway display that telltale bumper sticker symbol of the pet parent – a paw print emblazoned with the words “Who rescued who?”

As it turns out, animals don't need any special training at all to be excellent “people therapists.” Animal-assisted therapy, or AAT, is a real thing, yes, but for so many people, our furry therapist carries no formal credentials, keeps no office hours and basically sits at home on the couch napping until we need them.

How do we know animals are therapeutic? Here are some issues people commonly seek out therapy or counseling to resolve: poor quality sleep or lack of sleep, depression, anxiety, loneliness, stress, declining health and reduced enthusiasm for life.

Now guess what people with cats have to say about how problematic these oh-so-widespread human health and wellness issues are in their daily lives!

People who live with cats say they are twice as likely to get better sleep and more of it (i.e. the “catnap” really does work!).

As well, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that simply being in the presence of animals effortlessly deepens mindfulness practice, especially for people going through difficult times, such as cancer patients and elders in long-term care facilities.

The National Center for Health Research (NCHR) highlights how caring for a pet can help children (and people of all ages) develop vital life skills like enhanced empathy, increased self-confidence and more willingness to participate in activities and engage with peers.

My Cat, My Best Friend, My Desert Island Buddy

At the University of Cambridge, researchers discovered to their surprise that children with siblings said their pet was their best friend rather than a sister or brother!

On that note, take a moment to ponder who you would pick for a companion if you were stranded on a desert island. Your best friend? Your spouse? Your cat? One national survey reported that more than half of respondents would pick their pet over a human companion – even their spouse.

Cats Teach Their People How to Love & Be Loved

Of course, there are those naysayers who insist that cats aren't loving, people-oriented or consciousness-raising at all. But science begs to differ. Cats may not be needy, clingy or codependent, but this has no bearing on how much they love “their” people!

Plus, there is one thing cats are exceptionally good at that most people aren't – receiving our love! In fact, as Psychology Today highlights, the simple, pure, loving act of petting a cat can focus our attention easily, even though we struggle to do the same when we are learning to meditate. So if you are having trouble meditating, perhaps you should start each meditation session by stroking your cat!

Cats are actually sufficiently tuned in to what their owners are feeling – and perhaps even thinking – that the domestic feline is now being called “man's other best friend” by none other than the Journal of Animal Cognition (yes, there really is such a publication!). As it turns out, new research reveals cats can sense people's moods and that they improve this ability as time passes.

Why Live With a Pet Cat?

Whether you want to improve your odds of evading cancer, make more new friends, learn how to live in the moment, stay calmer or simply live longer, consider opening your home to a new pet cat.

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