Cat lovers have a new reason to once again rejoice. New reports indicate that getting a cat as a house pet might actually be very good news for your mental health. In fact, new reports say that cats not only make good Netflix buddies, but they can also help you chill, as they can reduce your stress levels, simply by being next to you.
A study published in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Neurology states that getting a cat can reduce your risk of having a stroke or a heart attack by at least one third. The researchers also found that cats can make you feel less stressed overall. This was proven when the study’s researchers measured the heart rate and blood pressure of cat owners and compared them to non-cat owners.
Researchers took the data from over 4,000 people between the ages of 30 to 75 in over the course of 10 years. After analyzing the data, they found out that cat owners had a 30 percent less risk of dying from a heart attack of complications after a stroke, compared to people who didn’t own a feline friend at home. Some factors that were accounted for in the study included smoking, diabetes, heart health and cholesterol levels.
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Lead researcher Adnan Qureshi said that the logical explanation for this is that cats not only make great companions, but also help relieve anxiety and stress levels by their simple presence. Something as simple as stroking a cat or other household pet while watching television can help cut the level of stress-related hormones in the blood. In other words, they can also invoke strong feelings of connection while also protecting their owners from long-term health issues like heart disease.
Therapist Chelsea Hudson from the CityScape Counseling in Chicago told Eilte Daily in an interview, “Taking care of a cat gives people a sense of purpose and also acts as a distraction to one's own problems. Both 'finding purpose' and distraction are common stress-reduction techniques."
Other benefits of having a cat include lowering your blood pressure, boosting immunity, increase sociability, along with lowering triglycerides and cholesterol levels. Owning a cat can also have great therapeutic benefits, thanks to their calming effect. Health professionals add that cats can trigger the release of oxytocin, the hormone known for inducing feelings of love and trust. In addition, a Swiss study conducted in 2003 revealed that owning a cat is similar to having a romantic partner.