Column: Cats: Ounce of prevention and a pound of cure
The Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) is always looking for the latest scientific studies regarding the many benefits our graceful felines can bring into your home. Believe it or not, there are a few people who still claim they don't like cats. So the better educated we are regarding our amazing feline friends, the better we can educate this sad and unfortunate demographic. Here are the results from some of the most recent studies which prove owning a cat is beneficial to your physical and mental health.
Owning any pet is known to reduce stress in our lives, but owning a cat is off the charts for providing stress reduction. This feline induced reduction in anxiety and stress is proven to be beneficial to our heart health. A University of Minnesota's Stroke Institute study followed 4,000 Americans over 10 years and found cat owners are 30 percent less likely to die of a stroke or heart attack compared to others.
Another study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that children exposed to cats before one year of age were less likely to develop many allergies later in life than those who lived in a cat-less environment.
This next study may sound crazy, but it's true. Vibration therapy is often used to strengthen bones and muscles that are injured or are failing in health. A cat's purring creates vibrations around 20-140 Hz, which is the ideal range for strengthening bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments. This frequency also reduces infection and swelling.
A French study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found cat ownership increases oxytocin in the brain. Not only does this hormone lower stress, it allowed children and adults suffering from mild autism to feel calmer and socialize more easily.
A United Kingdom study found that those who suffered the loss of a loved one had fewer debilitating symptoms from grief if they owned a pet. The presence of a pet offers emotional support and comfort not only from petting, but simply by being around. Plus, we all know that cats are constantly doing silly things to make us laugh and lighten the mood.
High blood pressure often comes with stress and anxiety, so it's no wonder that owning a cat can help keep you healthy - reduced stress lowers blood pressure which in turn promotes heart health.
Several studies have shown that people who own cats are 12 percent less likely to visit the doctor every year; suggesting cat owners are healthier and happier than the rest of society.
A study published in 2000 called Animal Assisted Therapy: Magic or Medicine, found that even visits by pets can greatly improve the well-being of those suffering from illness. Alzheimer's patients were found to be less angry and depressed and children with ADHD showed improved attention spans.
While the science behind cats detecting seizures is not understood, these studies are growing every day. Not all cats will alert a person to an oncoming seizure, but there seems to be more and more reports of felines notifying their owners when something is about to happen.
Studies abound that prove a cat (or two) in the house will calm your nerves, decrease the symptoms of dysponea, lower your blood pressure, heal your muscles and bones, and lessen the risk of a heart attack or stroke. So what are you waiting for? Get your kitty prescription filled today at either YHS' Cat Adoption Center (located at 1625 Sundog Ranch Road or at the Petsmart on Highway 69 and Walker Road in Prescott.
Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 928-445-2666, ext. 101.