OPINION: Cats aren’t just cute, they’re beneficial for your health

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After a long day away from home, I would always love to come home and see my cat. Whether she was ready to greet me at the door or curled up on the couch, caressing her gave me much-needed comfort during my most stressful days. During the worst stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, my cat’s presence made life a little easier.

Cats are not only very loving animals, they can also be very helpful for our individual wellbeing. They offer comfort and can be good friends when we feel lonely. Cats have unique personalities, which makes it fascinating to be around them. Realizing how useful it can be to have a cat is important because it offers a lot more than we think.

Recent studies have shown that petting a purring cat can relieve stress in both humans and cats. The cat’s vibrations have also been shown to have a calming effect that replicates Vibration therapythat people use to promote bone growth and fracture healing. Has purring too been linked to relieve symptoms of dyspnea (difficulty breathing).

In addition to the physical healing effects, cats offer loving company in difficult times. At the height of the pandemic, my cat helped alleviate my loneliness by sleeping with me in my bed and following me. Surveys have shown that others shared this experience during their quarantine.

There is a common belief that cats are not interested in cuddling and want complete independence. However, this could not be a more untrue and overly generalized statement. Studies have shown that cats adapt their behavior to the attention of their owner. If you pay a lot of attention to your cat, it is very likely that she will do the same.

If you are allergic to cats there are still ways to get benefit. Research has shown that simply watching cat videos on YouTube reduced people’s fear, sadness, and anger. Cats have extremely funny behaviors as well to see them jump or making funny noises online is enough to make us happy.

Cats are great too emotionally intelligent. When their owner is sad, cats will notice and adjust their attitudes and behavior. When a cat realizes that its owner is angry, it will often give its owner some space or even act defensively. The complexity of a cat’s reactions to human emotions makes it appear more like a friend than just a pet.

For college students, cats are a natural resource for emotional support, especially if you live in a dormitory. Cats don’t mind smaller rooms, and they can handle being left alone for a while. They also make very quiet noises, if at all. If you are lonely and able to be a responsible pet owner, adopting a cat for your dorm can be a good idea.

Also, remember that for a healthy relationship with your cat, you must be respectful of her. Cats aren’t dogs – most don’t like their head rubbed aggressively, and many of them have very personal preferences when it comes to petting. Some cats love having their belly rubbed while others scratch you right away if you try at all. You need to learn what your cat likes in order to develop the best possible bond.

Some people refer to cats as snobby for having such specific preferences, but part of owning a cat is learning to respect their boundaries. If you are able to build trust and comfort with your cat, they make wonderful pets that can aid your physical and mental wellbeing.

Mishaal Ijaz SC ’24 is from San Diego, California. She dreams of one day owning several cats.