5 Ways Cats Are Great For Your Mental Health
While most people think that dogs are better companions and bring their owners more mental health benefits, cat owners are starting to say not so fast.
Not only are cats helpful to those who suffer from mental illness, many times they are a better choice for a companion than dogs. Especially when it comes to people suffering from anxiety, poor social skills, communication issues, and other similar mental illnesses.
While dogs are a bit more forgiving when it comes to you taking out your frustrations on them, cats are a little less tolerant, which come to find out makes them a better therapy tool for people who are struggling to control their emotional responses to certain situations.
Here are 5 ways that cats are great for your mental health.
#1 – When You Spend Time With Your Pets It Releases A Chemical In Your Brain Called Oxytocin
Oxytocin is a chemical often referred to as the “love hormone” or the “cuddle chemical.”
Oxytocin is the chemical responsible for the physical mechanisms involved in the birth of mammals. It’s also responsible for stimulating uterine smooth muscle contractions and facilitating labor.
And it triggers what’s called the milk letdown, that enables milk to be ejected through the nipples.
Believe it or not, petting a cat can have the same effect.
Oxytocin has been shown to create a sense of calm and relaxation and it helps build trust and encourages stable mental health. In addition, oxytocin has also been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. In essence, the release of oxytocin makes you feel good and cats can make that happen.
#2 – Cat’s Can Help You Learn How To Interact With Others
If you’ve had a cat for a while, you know how sensitive they can be to your shouting and any signs of tension. Watching how they respond to your behavior can help you control your emotional responses.
In couples therapy, for example, couples are often asked to work on having arguments that are calm enough to where a cat can sleep through it, which in my opinion is another great reason to have a cat. That’s because raising your voice will cause your cat to immediately become distressed and they will typically leave the room. This gives people a great feedback as to whether or not they are controlling their emotions in a responsible way.
#3 – Making A Cat Purr Teaches Emotional Regulation
By getting people who struggle with emotional issues like anger control to pet a cat until they start to purr teaches them useful skills in emotion control and gives them the ability to calm themselves down from an emotionally heightened state. While petting a dog can give you the same type of emotional pleasure, they don’t give off the same audible signal of their enjoyment, which is extremely helpful as a feedback tool.
#4 – The Purr of a Cat Actually Has Health Benefits
Did you know that when a cat purrs, there is actually a health benefit to humans? That’s because cats purr at a frequency of 25-50 Hertz. In several clinical studies, it has been shown that people who have been exposed to sound frequencies in the 20-50 Hertz range experience a variety of health benefits. Things like improved bone density, relief of pain and increased healing of muscles and tendons.
But that’s not all, the purr of a cat is also at the same frequency that produces some of the positive effects of meditation. Including relaxation, stress relief, and reduced anxiety.
#5 – Cat’s Fulfill a Human Need for Touch
From the time that we are born, human beings crave touch. In fact, studies done in the past show that infants who are not touched fail to thrive. Those suffering from mental or emotional issues may be afraid to reach out to others or may simply not like being touched by others for whatever reason.
This makes it difficult for them to form bonds with others and may be socially isolating. That’s where cats come in. Cuddling up with a cat can fulfill many of those needs for touch. It also allows us to give and receive love, which is essential for emotional and mental wellbeing.
Cats can add immensely to our emotional, mental and physical health, which is why owning a cat can be so rewarding. If you’ve been thinking of getting a cat, now you have 5 more good reasons to go out and get one. And if you already have a cat, now you know why they make you feel so good.