by Zara Mohammed, Lifestyle Columnist
Published in Lifestyle on 13th August, 2018
It is widely accepted that owning a dog is known to improve your health and give you a better quality of life. It makes sense, right? You have to walk them everyday and so they can help to keep you fit, get more fresh air, and engage more in quality time spent with your partner or the family.
Cats have more commonly been associated with (dare I say it) single, spinster, and stay-at-home types who enjoy cuddles on the sofa. Nowadays of course these stereotypes are changing, but did you know that your feline friend could in fact be an equal contender alongside dogs as a pet who is indeed good for your health?
I'm not talking about these new "adventure cats" on Instagram either. Read on to discover how your ordinary moggy could be helping to improve your health without you even realising it!
It has been suggested that living with cats can improve a child's chances of later on in life developing allergies and asthma.
This conclusion was found during the scientific study of a number of children who were followed by researchers from birth up until the age of 18. The results suggested that those children who had been exposed to life with a cat in the first year of their life experienced a halved risk of cat allergens affecting their immune system at 18.
Find out more: The NHS website has an interested analysis of the study and it's findings: Here
Your cat could be the perfect meditation companion, with their purring helping to promote self-healing. I know, how crazy does that sound? But did you know that vibration therapy, with vibrations at similar frequencies to that of a cat purring, is now being used to help heal bone fractures in humans?
When a cat purrs we often think that it is an expression of happiness, contentment and love, because we most often hear them purr when they are displaying or receiving affection. The fact that cats sleep for a large portion of their life and have therefore adapted to conserve energy during long periods of rest, likely explains that their purring is a mechanism which functions to stimulate bones and muscles whilst conserving energy.
Fun Fact: A fun (and very silly) veterinary legend says that cats are able to reassemble their bones when placed in the same room with all of their parts - just don't try it on your cat at home!
Stroking a cat is a calming experience, and because touch is one of the last senses to become impaired in people suffering from Dementia, stroking a cat is a particularly rewarding experience for them.
Children with special needs have also found it easier to connect with animals, and a calm cat can have a positive and calming effect on them. Obviously this is dependant on the animal and the child.
Did you know? This company design robotic cats and dogs specifically as a therapeutic aid and as "companion pets". The animals have life-like fur, which is perfect for stroking, and a range of robotic gestures, allowing them to respond to touch and affection. joyforall.com
Owning a cat could be good for your heart in more ways than one. There are so many stray cats that are put down because they have been abandoned. In return for saving a cat's life, you will of course receive lots of love and an outlet to express your own affection, but this isn't the only way your heart will benefit from owning a cat.
Spending time in the company of cats helps to promote calm and lowers stress levels, which in turn helps to maintain healthy blood pressure. Because of this cat owners can enjoy lower resting heart rates. Low blood pressure also means a healthier heart, and less risk of heart disease and stroke!
Elderly cat owners, or patients recovering from a muscle injury or stroke can improve the dexterity in their hands and fingers by stroking or gently brushing a cat.
Don't forget that cats are perfect pets for older people or those who have to be less active, because they are such independent animals. They don't need much care, and they tend to look after and entertain themselves. As long as they have access to fresh water and food every day, and also access to the outside world via a cat flap so that they can come and go as they please and go to the toilet outside, they are the ultimate low maintenance pets. Some breeds may require more grooming than others though.
So there you have it! Cats are taking over the world, making us laugh in Facebook memes, making us coo at their cuteness on Instagram, and making us feel better in our homes and everyday life.