When you think of a service animal, a cat is probably not the first four-legged companion to come to mind. Science is proving more and more however, that our feline friends are actually quite beneficial to our health. A cat’s company can improve your quality of life both physiologically and psychologically, and in many regards that you may have never even considered. But how, exactly? Read on or click here to discover just a few of the reasons that cats are becoming more and more accepted as therapy animals:
1. Pets encourage you to get active.
Perhaps one of the most obvious benefits to owning a pet is the encouragement to get moving. Cats can be fun, energetic, and tenacious creatures, and are great to play with. No dog to walk? No worries! Grab a leash and take your cat for a stroll around the neighborhood. If they live indoors, they’ll appreciate the fresh air and change of scenery as much as you will.
2. Purring doesn’t just make your cat happy…it makes your body happy too!
The power of purring can be healing! When a cat purrs, the vibrations produced can quite literally incite calming and beneficial effects on the body. Hearing a purr can reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, decrease the symptoms of dysponea, promote bone strength, and encourage the healing of infections, as well as injuries to muscle, tendon, and ligament injuries. Over time, these body-calming effects have also been proven to benefit heart health.
3. Cats can help reduce allergies
If you already suffer from a cat allergy, owning a cat won’t reverse it. Owning a cat can however, impact the allergen immunity of your children. A 2002 study revealed that individuals exposed to cats from a young age were not only less likely to develop a feline allergy, but were less likely to develop allergies to other common irritants, such as grass or dust mites.
4. Cats are a man’s best friend.
It’s no secret that pets are an effective supplement to loneliness. Cats especially, are great for cuddling, and can be particularly beneficial to those who may be grieving the loss of a loved one. Pets also provide additional opportunities for socialization and connection with others.
5. They can sense harmful changes in their owners.
Like dogs, many cats have a natural sensitivity towards changes in energy within their environment. This sensitivity can be trained in order for the animal to better recognize these changes as a service animal. For those who suffer seizures for instance, the cat may start to circle, frantically lick at, or become very territorial with their owner if they feel an episode is near. This is the pet attempting to warn their owner of the changes they sense. Scientists believe this ability may have something to do with detecting changes in biochemical scents, but the reasoning behind it is still largely a mystery.