Cats Make Great Pets Because It's Science
You know you love them.
Cats were on the receiving end of a recent 28-paragraph screed over at Vox, which Popular Science pointed out to us, where the author claimed that cats are "selfish, unfeeling, environmentally harmful creatures." We're here to say that the author is wrong about cats. That's not just according to us, though, that's according to science. Cat ladies, rejoice!
For starters, the Center for Disease Control (the CDC) reports that cats are good for your health. While they won't prevent COVID or cancer, the CDC cites studies that show having pets can "increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners." They go on to note real health benefits seen in folks who have pets, including decreased blood pressure, decreased cholesterol levels, decreased triglyceride levels, and decreased feelings of loneliness.
That's not all, though, as NBC News points to a study published in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Neurology that found a link between cat ownership and a decreased risk of dying from heart attack or stroke. Turns out that the sound of your cat's adorable little purr can actually lower your blood pressure.
That's not the only way cats can soothe their owners, though. The researchers at Harvard Medical School note that bonding with pets releases oxytocin, the so-called "cuddle chemical," which can make you feel less stressed. That is a good thing because stress is definitely bad for your physical and mental health. "When you feel securely attached to this living being, there are biological brain effects that reduce stress response, so it may affect your breathing rate or blood pressure or oxygen consumption or anxiety level," psychiatrist Dr. Greg Fricchione told Harvard Health News. Dr. Fricchione also notes that taking care of a dog or a cat can provide a sense of purpose and a feeling of validation, which is important for mental health.
Healthline points to a study at the University of Pennsylvania that found "people had reduced health complaints like headaches, back pain, and colds." While those specific health benefits may fade over time, the author notes "it's possible that people who form a good relationship with their cat continue to see benefits."
That's not all—another study reported by NBC News from the journal of Clinical & Experimental Allergy found that teens who were exposed to cats during their first year of life were less likely to develop pet allergies later.
A cat purring is one of the most comforting sounds in the world and while it certainly means your cat is happy and comfortable, the sound has also been long associated with a therapeutic healing ability on human bones and muscle.
Even if you don't have a cat, you can benefit from the existence of cats via those cute cat videos that populate the internet. Goodnet.org points to a study of over 7,000 people that found just watching cat videos on the internet "boosts viewers' energy and positive emotions while decreasing negative feelings." So yes, rejoice cat lovers, your furry friends are good companions. But you already knew that.