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ODE TO CATS!
Oct 23, 2023

Stress and anxiety got you down? Try a furry friend!

We have many strategies and tools at our disposal to manage stress and anxiety. I have written several articles on this subject, mentioning various tools such as Bach Flower therapy, meditation, walking, and deep breathing. These are all valuable tools, but we often overlook or underestimate the powerful therapeutic effect of pets.
Cats, in particular, can have a calming effect on humans.
Stroking a cat, can have an immediate calming effect on the nervous system.

In this article, I want to discuss the positive effects of owning a cat.
Why a cat and not a dog?
Simply because we have learned much more about dogs and their behavior in the past centuries, and how to train them. As a result, we tend to put dogs on a pedestal, leaving out cats and their merits.
I believe that contact with cats offers many of the same therapeutic benefits as contact with dogs.

*A paper published in ScienceDirect found that cats can have both psychological and physical benefits for their owners. The presence of cats, their purring, and their soft and warm fur can relieve stress and have a calming effect. Stress and anxiety are considered to be contributory factors to cardiovascular disease. Studies have shown that pet owners have significantly lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels than non-pet owners.
In other words, owning a cat may help to protect your heart health.
Loneliness is likely a precursor for anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. There is some evidence that pet ownership may protect children and youth from loneliness and social isolation, and therefore may help to prevent depression.

*
Do you remember that day when you were feeling down?
You came home and threw yourself on the couch.
Who immediately came to the rescue?
Your cat!
Your cat looked into your eyes, started purring, rubbed against your face to get your scent, and left their scent on you. They even kneaded on your chest or belly before curling up next to you for a cozy nap. Cats can sense our emotions. They know when we are sick, happy, or sad, and they will adjust their behavior accordingly.

While it may be true that it is easier to read a dog's body language, cats are not as difficult to understand as some people believe. Pay attention to their ears. Flat ears are a sign of fear or aggression, while perked ears are a sign of interest or curiosity. Look at their tail. A high, swishing tail is a sign of excitement or happiness, while a low, tucked tail is a sign of fear or submission. Observe their body posture. A relaxed cat will have a loose, floppy body posture, while a tense cat will have a hunched or arched back.

If you are feeling down, take some time to relax with your cats. Pet them gently, talk to them in a soothing voice, or even just sit in the same room with them. You may be surprised at how much it helps to calm you down and make you feel better.
I am so grateful for my two cats, one shy and timid, the other bold and adventurous.
They bring me so much joy.

If you have a cat, be grateful for their companionship. They are truly special creatures.

Oh, did I mention that the other morning, one of my cats woke me up at 6 AM because he was moving erratically on my side of the bed?
I knew something was up. I turned on the light and there it was: a cockroach! He had caught it and brought it to me to show off his hunting skills.

Yes, cats are good at that too—it's a bonus!

Resources:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1230801316300613
https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/ps.49.6.797
https://habri.org/research/healthy-aging/cardiovascular-health/

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