13 Benefits of Having a Cat
By Hannah Baker May 04, 2019
There are countless reasons why having a pet cat is beneficial. Whether you choose to adopt a cat from a shelter, rescue one off the street, or just purchase one, there is a point where you have to decide if you want a new forever friend. It’s a big choice and not one to be taken lightly. Life is hectic, pets are a big deal, and you’re not even sure if it’s worth it. After all, pets can live for quite a long time. And judging by the mound of half-read books stacked on your nightstand, commitment may not be your forte. But don’t worry; we’ve taken the guesswork out of your decision. What follows is a list of benefits of having a cat, so that you can make a wise and educated decision about whether or not you should invite a furry friend into your home for the rest of their days.
Ask any cat owner, though, and they’ll tell you that no list even comes close. And that, my friends, is the biggest benefit of them all.
An attribute normally reserved for dogs, companionship is actually one of the biggest (if not the biggest) benefit to owning a cat. While they may exhibit their friendship in different ways than a dog does, cats have the capacity to create strong bonds with their owner. The bonds are strong enough to even rival human friendships. Cats provide warmth and coziness, and as a bonus, they’re wonderful listeners. Through this companionship, cats can provide healing friendship that gets us through the toughest of times. From high school breakups, to the loss of a loved one, having your kitty friend nearby is consoling and comforting. They reduce the feeling of loneliness and provide us a safe place to be ourselves without judgment.
2. Stress and Anxiety Reduction
The ways in which cats are able to reduce stress in human are both physical and mental. Scientifically, studies have shown that cats are actually able to reduce blood pressure in their owners. This, in turn, helps to reduce overall stress and anxiety. Beyond that, the mere act of having a cat beside you can improve your mood. Who hasn’t had that moment when they’re at their lowest, and then they see a cute animal? It’s almost a direct shot of endorphins to the brain. By having your own cat, you get this benefit 24/7. Through their relentless companionship and being cuddly, cats can make even the most wound-up human relax.
3. Reduced Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke
Did you think stress reduction was the only medical benefit of having a cat? Think again. In various studies, scientists have shown that cat owners have a reduced risk of heart disease and a reduced risk of stroke compared to control groups that did not own a cat. Attributing to the benefit of stress reduction, cats are able to provide subsequent medical benefits because of how much mental peace they bring us. Scientists have shown again and again how tied our mental health is to our physical health, and this is no small example of that. By keeping our heads screwed on straight, cats also keep us physically well.
4. Sleep Improvement
Having a cat that sleeps with you at night is akin to having an all-in-one white noise machine and heater. Oh - and they’re alive and cuddly and furry. Most cat owners report that sleeping with their cat at night is even more peaceful than sleeping next to another human being. While this totally depends on the individual cat and their ability to sleep calmly throughout the night, cats can potentially improve the sleep of their owner. Who wouldn’t want a fuzzy friend to sleep with at night? Sure, they may wake you up by sitting on your chest and pawing at your face, but we’d argue that this is leagues better than a loud alarm clock.
5. Low Carbon Footprint
Since cats are generally smaller in size, they tend to eat a smaller amount of processed meat, which makes them a smaller contributor to climate change. This is not to say that pets overall aren’t a surprisingly large contributor to pollution because they are. But cats are a tiny bit less culpable. One of the largest (if not the largest) sources of pollution in the United States is because of the meat industry. As such, pet food is a pretty large factor in this. By making smart choices about pet food ingredients, pet owners can reduce the carbon footprint of their pet.
Remember that white noise machine that we mentioned? This helps during the day, too. In addition to the calming benefits that purring has just from hearing it, there’s a lot happening underneath the surface as well. When cats purr, the sound creates a vibration that occurs at a frequency of 25 hertz. When humans heal after an injury, scientists have found that exposing the joints, bones, and muscles, to frequencies within the range of 18-35 HZ has a positive effect on the mobilities of these body parts. Because of this, purring is now a focus of scientific studies into how this phenomenon can indeed improve human healing.
7. Allergy Reduction
This may sound counter intuitive, but owning cats can actually reduce your risk of allergies. This specifically applies to young children. Those who were exposed to multiple pets within the household at a young age had a decreased risk of allergies, both to pets and to other allergens. If you have young children or are expecting to have them, it might be a good idea to adopt a cat (or two) to help expose your children early on to reduce their risk in the future. Ask anybody who suffers from allergies, and they’ll tell you that they wish they had this as a tiny human.
Cats keep you active. They may not have as much of an effect as dogs do (unless you’re lucky enough to have a cat that you take on walks), but simply the process of owning a cat means that you stay a little more active. Playing with your cat, taking them to the vet, going to buy them food and toys, hanging out with them outside - all of these activities keep you moving and keep you healthy.
9. Low Maintenance
Compared to other pets, cats take the metaphorical cake in the maintenance department. Aside from health and nutrition, cats don’t require that much upkeep. Sure, this is dependent on the individual cat and the individual owner. But in general, cats are much easier pets to take care of than their canine counterparts. They don’t need walks, playtime with other cats, or as much attention. They even clean themselves. In fact, if you just let them sleep the day away, they’d probably prefer it that way. Just give them a warm lap to sleep on, and you’re good.
Members of the feline family are very intelligent. Lions, tigers, leopards - they all use their inherent intellect to make decisions about food, shelter, and safety. This is no different for the modern house cat. One of the coolest benefits of having a cat around is being able to witness their uniquely intuitive brains. If you have an indoor-outdoor cat, you’ll find this true in their incredible ability to always find their way home to you.
If you’re into photography or just find yourself taking 50 pictures a day on your smartphone, then you’ll be happy to know that cats make for wonderful models. Take it from me. My iPhone camera roll is filled to the brim with thousands of pictures of my cat, Milk. They do the funniest things, the cutest things, and the weirdest things. The photo opportunities are endless!
12. A Friend for Other Pets
If you already have a dog or another cat living in your home, adopting a new cat may be a wonderful option to keep your other pet stimulated and happy. In my home, we have both a dog and a cat. While my cat may have been a tad skeptical at first (can you blame him?), they are now the best of friends.
13. Joy and Happiness
At the end of the day, the best and brightest benefit of having a cat is that they make us happy. Taking care of another life, in and of itself, is a huge plus. It’s a good feeling to be responsible for a pet and ensure that they live a happy life. In turn, this helps you live a happy life as well. And cats are adorable, smart, cunning, playful, and funny. Having them around will increase your overall joy in life.