How cats help our mental health
“Cats help our mental health just by being themselves. Their ability to reduce stress, offer companionship, heal with purrs, and offer their services as therapy animals make them the ideal champions for mental health.”
As a continuation of our previous blog post: Feline Mental Health, I wanted to talk about how cats help our mental health. It’s just as important to take care of ourselves. And whilst our feline friends might not be good for our furniture, they do contribute to our mental health.
Benefits of having a cat
Cats are known to be great pets for someone in need of help with their mental health. By nature, cats are calm animals and able to ease your nervous system whilst also providing an outlet for entertainment. Here are some of the psychological benefits of having a cat:
Petting or playing with a cat helps release all the right chemicals in the brain. It has been proven that stroking a cat causes a release of the “love hormone” in humans. There is also evidence to suggest that a cat’s purr can help lower blood pressure and relax the nervous system (cats really are an anxious person’s dream!). Cats help relieve stress and are generally low-maintenance pets – ultimately meaning less stress for their owners.
Cats can help reduce feelings of loneliness by fulfilling the need for companionship. According to an Austrian study, having a cat is almost the equivalent of having a romantic partner.
Recover from mental illnesses
There is evidence to show that cats are helpful to people with mental health conditions such as PTSD and depression. Cats help their owners manage emotions and are able to distract them from any symptoms they’re facing. In addition to this, cats make their owners feel needed. Having a furry friend to care for gives cat owners (pet owners in general) a sense of purpose, and this will help relieve mild depression symptoms. (The acts of caretaking can positively affect mental health.)
Studies confirm that cat owners tend to have higher self-esteem than those without. It may be because they serve as social support that helps people deal with their struggles better, boosting self-esteem. A study conducted with 97 undergraduates shows that pets can make people feel better after experiencing rejection.
Children’s mental health
According to an Australian study, cat owners have better psychological health than people without pets. (If you’d like to read this study, click here.) But whilst cats are great for helping their owners’ mental health, they are also great for children too.
A survey was created with over 2,200 Scottish children, ages 11-15, that showed that kids who had a strong relationship with their cats also had a higher quality of life. The survey showed that the more attached they were to their cat, the more they felt healthy and attentive, and less sad and lonely. The children also enjoy their time alone more than others.
Cats and mental health
I think we all agree that having a warm cat on your lap, purring away in their own rhythm is one of the best forms of stress relief out there. I also find that our cats know when we’re feeling down – Ronnie always seems to make himself comfortable on my chest when I’m having a bad day.
Cats offer a constant presence, unbothered by the cares of the world, that can make all our little worries and anxieties seem unnecessary.
Information in this post has been created and researched by My Three Cats. We do not provide medical advice. If you’re experiencing any mental health issues, please get in touch with your doctor immediately.