17 Health Perks of Living with Cats You Didn’t Know About

Written By Jill Taylor

The cat lovers among us know all about the joy our feline friends can bring into our lives. But you might be surprised to hear that there are several other science-backed health benefits of having a kitty to take care of. This list reveals 17 health perks of living with cats you probably didn’t know about.

Reduced Stress and Anxiety

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That’s right—the joy and calm you feel when stroking your feline friend isn’t just a placebo. According to the College of Veterinary Medicine, studies prove that petting a cat can help reduce stress and anxiety. Likewise, cats can also benefit from the soothing feeling of being petted, so it’s a win-win for everyone!

Enhanced Sleep Quality

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Did you know that people who sleep with or near cats often report better sleep quality and quantity? The naturally calming presence of a sleepy, purring kitty can make even the insomniacs among us want to doze off with them.

Allergy Resistance in Children

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A lot of people swear by the benefits of exposing kids to natural germs, wildlife, and animals to boost their immune systems, and they’re actually onto something. Being exposed to cats from an early age can help reduce one’s risk of developing allergies and build a more robust immune system.

Decreased Risk of Asthma in Children

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Similarly, being exposed to cats as a child can reduce your risk of developing asthma. Some researchers hypothesize that this is because early exposure to certain microbes can help your body build a healthy, strong immune response. Because cats contribute to a household’s natural microbial environment, they can offer similar benefits.

Emotional Support and Companionship

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Some people believe that cats are emotionless creatures who only care about the food we can give them. But cat lovers know this is far from true. Cats can be incredibly affectionate creatures who make great emotional support and companionship animals. If you live alone, a feline friend may be just what you need.

Increased Sociability

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Who says “crazy cat people” need to be alone? Owning a cat often leads to increased connections and social interactions with others who share a love for kitty companions. Cats also make great conversation starters among neighbors and online communities.

Improved Heart Health

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The National Institutes of Health found that cat owners are less likely to die from heart attacks than others. This may largely be due to cats’ ability to lower our stress, anxiety, and blood pressure levels. Either way, it’s a wonderful thing that cats can make our hearts happy in more ways than one.

Improved Mental Health

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When you’re feeling lost, alone, depressed, or anxious, the companionship of an affectionate kitty can be just what you need. Taking care of a cat can give us a healthy sense of routine and responsibility, which can be beneficial for our mental health. Furthermore, petting and spending time with a cat can reduce symptoms of mental health issues.

Enhanced Coping Mechanisms

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On a related note, cats can be a wonderful source of comfort and distraction during trying times of stress, anxiety, or grief. They help us embrace the joy of simple pleasures and the present moment. Their unconditional love can also be great for our resilience and self-worth.

Physical Activity and Play

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While we may not typically associate cats with increasing our physical fitness, you might be surprised. Having regular play sessions with your cat can help you up your activity levels and improve your flexibility and mobility, giving you a fun and energetic break from sedentary tasks.

Natural Pain Relief

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Did you know that cats are natural pain relievers? According to El Gato Veterinary Hospital, a cat’s purr can help reduce stress, anxiety, and pain in both themselves and the humans around them. So the next time you’re worried or suffering from a headache, why not try spending a little time with your feline buddy?

Faster Recovery from Illness or Surgery

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Research indicates that recovering from illness or surgery in the presence of a cat can boost one’s recovery time. Many believe this is due to cats’ natural ability to boost one’s spirits, reduce stress, and provide a source of positivity, love, and motivation.

Reduced Loneliness

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Loneliness is a serious issue in modern Western society. Thankfully, cat owners can always rely on their feline friends to provide a sense of connection and meaningful companionship to get them through hard times. This can help boost one’s natural feel-good hormones and reduce loneliness.

Lower Risk of Stroke

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Proactive Health Labs asserts that women over the age of 50 who own a pet are 40% less likely to die of a stroke than those who don’t. Furthermore, cat ownership was linked to an even lower risk of strokes than dog ownership. This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, as cats are known for their calming, peaceful presence and stress-reducing capabilities.

Helps in Grieving Process

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Loss and grief are incredibly difficult things for anyone to go through. But as animal lovers know, the loving presence of a cat or dog can provide a significant source of comfort, continuity, and relief. Many people believe that our pets know when we’re struggling with something and will make an extra effort to comfort us through difficult times.

Promotes a Sense of Safety

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Cats are incredibly sensitive creatures with powerful senses of smell, hearing, and taste. As such, they make great security systems, alerting their owners to any unusual sounds or smells in or around the home. Living with a cat can also help quell one’s fears about living alone.

Boosts Child Development

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Children who grow up around cats can learn valuable lessons about responsibility and empathy from an early age. For example, they may gain a deeper sense of compassion and understanding about the importance of loving and respecting all living beings.