This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, so there’s no better time to look at how sharing a home with our cats can make a positive difference to our mental health. As any pet owner can tell you, our pets make our lives better. Whether that’s a cat, a dog, a hamster or a horse, spending time around animals can provide a big mood boost!
Of course, this is Lovebug, so we’re going to be taking a closer look at the benefits of being a cat parent. Caring for our cats and hanging out with them can not only boost our mood, but also help to relieve stress, depression and anxiety - and this can even benefit our physical health too.
Our Cats Provide Companionship
Having a cat around at home is a really effective way to combat loneliness. Isolation and loneliness are detrimental to both our mental and physical health. The companionship of our pet cats - whether they’re there to greet you when you get home, snuggle up on the sofa in the evening, or provide a (probably) sympathetic ear when you’ve had a less than great day - makes them an excellent housemate and the purr-fect antidote to feeling a little lonely, especially if you live alone or are more isolated.
Our Cats Help Reduce Stress
While it might seem unlikely if they’ve just knocked over a glass of water or launched themselves at something across the room, our cats actually help to *reduce* our stress levels. Studies show that being around cats can reduce stress, and playing with or stroking our cats elevates our levels of serotonin and dopamine, the “happy hormones” that help us to relax.
This also has a positive, knock-on effect when it comes to our physical health, because the reduced stress levels can also lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Research has demonstrated that pet owners have lower blood pressure in stressful situations when compared to people without pets.
And cats have another stress relieving secret, too: their purring releases endorphins that help calm them down and soothe them, and research shows that a cat’s purring can have a similar effect on us as well.
Our Cats Provide Purpose & Structure
Living with and caring for a cat provides us with a sense of purpose and responsibility, and it’s also a great motivator. Even on the laziest of days, our cats need us to get out of bed and get their breakfast, and they’ll let us know when it’s time to play or give them attention. These simple little things can really benefit our mental health, perhaps without us even noticing it.
Who hasn’t been woken up by their cat’s demands for breakfast? Cats are a pretty effective alarm in the morning, and as well as the sense of purpose that comes from being their carer, they also provide us with beneficial routine and structure. Cats’ commitment to routine and things like set meal times can positively benefit us too, as sticking to a structured daily routine is good for our mental health.
Find Out More…
If you’d like to know even more about the positive benefits of cat ownership or pets in general, you can find out more in our source articles: