Pets in the Pandemic: Cats

Discover how cats are helping us cope during the Covid-19 pandemic and how they contribute to our mental health and well-being.



Many studies and research have shown that watching cat videos on the internet can boost a person's energy and create positive emotions. Therefore, it is no surprise that cat ownership has a number of benefits and positive effects on people’s mental health.

Behind the fluffy ears, paws, whiskers and cute belly, there is way more to cats. Behind all of the warm cuddles, meows and purring, cats are animals that improve mental health by giving cat parents happy moments, decreasing stress and anxiety, offering companionship, purring the pain away, and serving as the ideal therapy animal.



Reasons why cats improve our mental health, especially during these challenging times:



1. Pawesome Companionships


That purrfect feeling of companionship and friendship with a cat positively affects anyone’s mental health. Specially now during Corona when people have limited social contact and spend more time alone and isolated. Having a cat can help take the loneliness away and give people a life with more purrpose.

The state of feeling needed by a cat, having the cat rely on you and love you in such a pure way can elevate positive mental health. The fact that you have a reason to get up everyday to feed them and give them all your love and attention, makes your daily routine already better and more fulfilling.


Having a relationship with an animal is rewarding. Cats give purpose to your life and help you combat the loneliness people are feeling now during Covid-19 lockdowns and social distancing.

The stereotype that dogs are more affectionate than cats is just that: a stereotype. In fact, it turns out that cats can be just as good of companions as dogs, especially for women.


After thousands of years of domestication, cats have learned how to make a half purr/half howl noise that sounds remarkably like a human baby’s cry. Since our brains are programmed to respond to our children’s distress, it is almost impossible to ignore what a cat wants when it demands it like that. Studies have shown cats will remember kindness shown to them and return the favour later.




2. Healers of Loss


Losing a loved one is incredibly painful, but one of the best ways of coping with loss is to own a cat. Cats have been shown to help people get over their loss more quickly, and show less physical symptoms of pain and distress, like crying.

Cats serve as a social support during difficult times. People in mourning often like talking to their pet to work out their feelings, since it is often easier to talk to something that won’t respond back and can’t judge you. Therefore having a pet, and particularly a cat is great for mourning. Cats can be the best listeners.


Cats help regulate feelings by releasing stress and deep emotions from humans. Cats causes people to relax and have more positive feelings around their presence instead of focusing their energy on anger or sadness.


“ What greater gift than the love of a cat?”

- Charles Dickens








3. Purrfect Therapists


Many animals are used in today’s treatment as therapists in many different ways. Some animals are better than others depending on the person’s emotional and physical needs.


. Horses are popular in addiction settings as a therapy animal due to their need for trust and creating a bond.


. Dogs are popular therapy animals for people suffering from PTSD, dementia or even those that suffer from seizures. Dogs are great therapy animals on both an emotional and physical level.


. Cats are more individual and independent than dogs, this fact makes them the most valuable therapy animal for humans when it comes to depression and anxiety conditions.

They offer incredible calming effects that can serve as therapy for patients who suffer from mental illness like post-traumatic depression, stress or anxiety. Cats are beneficial to people from a mental and physical health perspective.


Hospitals and nursing homes are common places where cats are helpful to patients in stressful settings and conditions. Because of a cat’s ability to calm, lower stress levels, and offer companionship, they are great therapy animals which have an amazing positive effect on mental health. Anyone could benefit from a relationship with a cat.




4. The Healing Power of the Purr


A cat purrs within a range of 20-140 Hz which is known to be medically therapeutic for illnesses in humans. A cat’s purr can not only lower stress it can also help laboured breathing, lower blood pressure, help heal infections, and even heal bones.

Studies have shown and proven the physical effects are real. So it isn’t a far stretch to imagine that if purrs can help heal bones, they can positively impact the effects of stress and anxiety.



Healing Benefits from Purrs

𝐏𝐮𝐫𝐫 𝐁𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐟𝐢𝐭 #𝟏: 𝐃𝐞𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐒𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐋𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐥𝐬 💆🏻

The frequency of cat purrs work like therapeutic sound range that loosens our nerves and makes us feel more at ease.


𝐏𝐮𝐫𝐫 𝐁𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐟𝐢𝐭 #𝟐: 𝐋𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐁𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐏𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐞

Your blood pressure lowers when you interact with your cat and hear the purring sound. Less stress leads to a healthy blood pressure, which can lead to a healthier life.


𝐏𝐮𝐫𝐫 𝐁𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐟𝐢𝐭 #𝟑: 𝐈𝐦𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐬 𝐇𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐇𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐭𝐡 💖

Studies have show that cat owners have a 40% less risk of heart attack.


𝐏𝐮𝐫𝐫 𝐁𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐟𝐢𝐭 #𝟒: 𝐈𝐦𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐬 𝐘𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐁𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 👃🏽

Cat purrs can help cut down on dyspnea, which is when you have difficulty breathing. This is because of cats’ peaceful purring mimics breathing inward and outward, which gives us a verbal example of how to breathe and stay calm.

This mindful breathing is actually another way to cut down your stress levels, making cat purrs a way of meditation too.

𝐏𝐮𝐫𝐫 𝐁𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐟𝐢𝐭 #𝟓: 𝐒𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐠𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐧𝐬 𝐁𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐬 💪🏽

Cat purrs can also build up bone strength, which makes it easier for them to heal after a break or fracture.

The best frequencies for promoting bone strength are from 25 to 50 Hz. Since most cats come pretty close at around 20 Hz, their rumbles and purrs can definitely promote bone strength and healing.


Our cats are like our personal therapists, not just making us happier but also healthier. ⁣



5. Stress and Anxiety Relievers


Cats are shown to relieve stress in a number of different ways by simply being themselves. When you’ve had a hard day, coming home and spending some time petting a feline can cause your body to produce stress reducing hormones. When you do so, your heart rate and blood pressure decrease and your anxiety levels normalise.

Many people benefit from a relationship with a cat. Sitting with your cat and petting them everyday can have a lasting, positive effect on your overall health.




6. The Cuddle Chemical that makes you Happier


Scientists have found evidence that interaction with cats (petting and playing) resulted in a release of oxytocin, often known as the cuddle chemical; particularly more so if the animal was already known and bonded to the human it was interacting with.


Oxytocin is a hormone and neurotransmitter that has numerous effects on the human body. When released into the brain it is believed to impact emotional, cognitive and social behaviours. It is believed to reduce stress responses including anxiety.


Oxytocin increases pet owners’ sense of well-being, improvement of social attention, mood & behaviour, interpersonal interaction and the state of feeling happier.




7. Indicators of Well-Being


Besides helping people coping with loss, cats can also indicate how good a couple or a family is doing.

A cat will sense anger or a fight in a room and try to leave in discomfort. When a cat is not around or show abnormal behaviour, it is often the case when it senses stress or negative energy around.


This way, cats can be promoters or indicators of well-being in a home.




8. Fewer Allergy Development in Infants


In case you are planning to have a child or you have a child on the way 👶🏽, it might be time to get a cat! 🐱

"In 2002, the National Institutes of Health released a study that found children under a year old who were exposed to a cat were less likely to develop allergies—and not just pet allergies. According to Marshall Plaut, M.D., chief of the allergic mechanisms section at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, "high pet exposure early in life appears to protect against not only pet allergy but also other types of common allergies, such as allergy to dust mites, ragweed, and grass." And while the cat parasite Toxoplasma gondii is a threat to young children, experts say that by changing your cat’s litter box every day and keeping the animal indoors, you should be safe and allergy free!"



9. Life Savers


They can literally save your life!

Cats have a reputation of not caring about their humans for some (no one understands these people 🙅🏻), 😏 but there is plenty of proof for the opposite and actually cats have even saved countless lives over the years! Some stories below.👇

Stories:

"One cat in the United Kingdom warns her human when he’s about to have an epileptic seizure, while a cat in Montana woke up its two humans when a gas pipe started leaking. Firefighters told the couple that the house could easily have exploded if not for cat’s intervention."


"One cat has even received the highest medal available to military animals. Simon the cat was onboard the HMS Amethyst, which was sailing up the Yangtze in 1949 when a shell hit the ship, killing several marines and severely injuring Simon. (The event marked the beginning of the 101-day siege of the ship, which would become known as the Yangtze Incident.) Simon was fixed up, and despite being injured, performed his ship duty and started catching the rats that were threatening the ship’s food supply, as well as providing moral support for the surviving sailors. Simon died not long after the ship returned to the UK, but he was posthumously awarded the UK’s Dickin Medal, recognized as the animal Victoria Cross, for "behaviour [of] the highest order, although the blast was capable of making a hole over a foot in diameter in a steel plate.”




10. Bad Energy Repellers


Have you ever observed your cat just constantly staring at an empty space or being around a specific place in the house looking all suspicious?

It is possible that your cat is sensing a bad energy and it is trying to protect you and your family from an evil spirit or a ghost! This happens because cats are gifted with “astral force”, which is an outstanding quality and it functions as negative energy repellant. 🔮

When you notice your cat consciously wandering about the house, try not to distract it.

It is probably trying to quickly remove bad energy from your home and immediate surroundings.



They give you a Life with more Purrpose


Cats are loving and affectionate animals. Every cat is different, but for cat-people especially, we love and celebrate their unique personalities and characters. They help many of us get out of bed, see the world differently and in a more positive way. Especially in these difficult times, they are our heroes helping us stay pawsitive, hopeful and motivated to bring the best of us every day. They inspire us to see that light at the end of the tunnel.

Little did we know, cats help our mental health just by being themselves. Their ability to reduce stress, offer companionship, heal with purrs, and offer their services as therapy animals makes them the ideal champions for mental health. All of their contributions to our health and well-being gives our Life more Purrpose. 💞


So next time your cat rubs its body against you or purrs around you, give it all the love they deserve and thank it for their role in helping your mental health stay positive, specially in these challenging and difficult times.


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Stay healthy, happy but overall purrfectly pawsitive! 🐾



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Photo Credits: Ira Efremova and Pietro Schellino

Quoted Text from mentalfloss.com