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Does Cat Ownership Improve Your Health?

January 21, 2012

While wasting time on Facebook recently, I came across this article on the 17 health benefits of cat ownership. I have had cats since I was in second grade, and currently have 2 cats, Mesa and Pashmina. I thought I’d review the highlights of the article, and see if the science is any good.

1. Lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Those who don’t own cats are 30 to 40 percent more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than those who do. And sorry dog fans, you don’t reap the same benefits. Maybe the palpitations incurred when your cat walks on the stove to admire herself in the reflection of its backsplash while a burner is on counts as cardio? Ditto those felt when your 13-pounder scales the refrigerator to reach her favorite perch on the top of the cabinets.

2. Lower risk of a heart attack. Apparently, kitty ownership lowers your risk of MI as well. I think this is related to health benefit no. 1.

3. Improve immune function. More than three decades of cat ownership has made me a lean, mean antibody machine. Fellow ailurophiles will know what I’m talking about….and who wouldn’t feel better looking at these two faces?

4. Decrease your chances of developing allergies. Studies have found that having a pet means that children are less likely to develop allergies, as it is likely to trigger immunity.  I’m guessing this is along the same lines as benefit #3.

6. Reduce blood pressure/10. Reduce stress. Scientists say that stroking a cat is calming and may reduce blood pressure. I’m willing to take them at their word, but its hard to stay stressed watching your cat go through life like this…

12. Improve your mood. All I know is, when I am in a bad mood, cuddling Mesa and Pashmina and scratching them behind the ears is the only surefire cure.

13. Help with depression. See benefit #12 above. No matter what happens in my search for a job or The Perfect Man (who is stuck at a meeting of the “No, I Really DO Exist!” support group seen in Dr. Pepper commercials), tickling and talking nonsense to M&P is the best relief for the blues.

15. Reduce loneliness. Sorta like benefit number #13. My lovely ladies love me no matter what. And who has time to be lonely when Mesa chatters nonstop, and follows me EVERYWHERE, and Pashmina peers over the top of the computer screen?

17. Increase lifespan. My paternal grandparents lived into their nineties, and my maternal grandmother is 86 and still kicking, so I’m not sure if cat ownership will make a difference here. I’ll take it though.

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