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Did you know: Cats Can Improve Your Well-being 🎥

Well-being is the experience of health, happiness and prosperity. Different dictionaries show different answers, but basically the definition of well-being deals with how a person feels, physically and mentally. In the same way that friendships, family support and romantic relationships can have a positive influence on our life, animal relationships can also provide an abundance of health benefits; cats in particular have a certain “healing power”.

Cats are common pets in all continents of the world (excluding Antarctica), and their global population is difficult to ascertain, with estimates ranging from anywhere between 200 million to 600 million according to Wikipedia. Thought to have descended from the African wildcat and used to catch vermin, the domestic cat can be traced all the way back to ancient Egypt 4,000 years ago (and perhaps beyond). By helping to reduce disease and protect crops, cats were quickly regarded as sacred creatures by the Egyptians.

Tabby Cat (Credit Wikimedia Commons)

We humans have created a strong relationship with cats and dogs by domesticating them. Cats are amazing companions. It feels good to have a living creature depend on us and give unconditional love. They don’t care what job we have or how famous we are. They can also bring physical health benefits to their owners. While this may simply be because “cat people” are naturally calmer and better able to handle stress, it is quite possible that having a feline friend is soothing and reassuring, and this ultimately contributes to improving a person’s well-being.

Some cats, called "therapy cats" are trained to help unwell humans in a medically beneficial way to take advantage of the human-animal interaction for purposes of relaxation and healing. Therapy cats have been used as companions to help the recovery and well-being of people who have had strokes, high blood pressure, anxiety or depression.

Therapy cats have also been used as companions at juvenile detention centres and for children with developmental disabilities and for children with language, speech and hearing difficulties.Therapy cats are also sometimes used in hospitals to relax children who are staying there.

A survey conducted by the Cats Protection feline charity in the United Kingdom in 2011 found that people who spend time with cats or kittens report feeling calmer and less upset.

Sitting with a relaxed purring cat at the end of a hectic day is a soothing massage for the soul,” explains Beth Skillings, a clinical veterinary officer at Cats Protection, United Kingdom.

“Perhaps this is because the reassuring hum is generally associated with calmness and gentle communication, or perhaps it is because the frequency of the vibration is in the range that can stimulate healing.”

Indeed, although we may think of many cats as aloof and lacking the empathy usually associated with dogs, felines may actually be able to understand when their owners are feeling down and react accordingly.

Purring is the most common sound cats make. Yet we know less about it than meowing, chirping, chattering, hissing, and growling.

No one knows for sure why a domestic cat purrs, but many people interpret the sound as one of contentment. Our understanding of how a domestic cat purrs is becoming more complete; most scientists agree that the larynx (voice box), laryngeal muscles, and a neural oscillator are involved. Kittens learn how to purr when they are a couple of days old. Veterinarians suggest that this purring tells ‘Mom’ that “I am okay” and that “I am here”. It also indicates a bonding mechanism between kitten and mother.

When a cat purrs within a frequency range of 20-140 Hertz, nearby humans may be therapeutically benefiting from these vibrations. Purring has been linked to lowering stress, decreasing symptoms of Dyspnoea, lessening the chances of having a heart attack, and even strengthening bones.

“Perhaps this is because the reassuring hum is generally associated with calmness and gentle communication, or perhaps it is because the frequency of the vibration is in the range that can stimulate healing.” - Beth Skillings

We recommend the following YouTube video:

40 Awesome Cat Facts to Understand Them Better (12:13)

Cats have lived with humans for more than 4,000 years but we still don’t know everything about them because they are really mysterious creatures. Did you know that cats can make up to 100 different sounds? Or that they can't taste sweets? Or that some ginger tabby cats have freckles around their mouth and even on their eyelids? And these aren't the only surprising facts about cats you may have missed!

Pet therapy is apparently gaining momentum in many communities, and according to Animal Planet, there is scientific research that suggests pet owners live longer than those without pets. It seems that our pets may have the ability to relieve us of our troubles, or at least make our worries seem less important. The bond between pets and their owners may never be fully understood, but it’s nice to know having a furry companion around can add years to our lives.



Medical News Today, 2018 (viewed 21.02.2020)

Wikipedia, Feb 2020 (viewed 22.02.2020)


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