How Having a Cat Improves Mental Health
Every cat parent knows that caring for their fur baby provides a great deal of stress relief and brings lots of cuddly good vibes. But does having a cat really improve mental health? We know we aren't alone when we say, absolutely.
How Cats Help Improve Mental Health
Being a cat parent is one of the most rewarding life experiences. Having a furry friend gives you companionship, a sense of purpose & routine, eases stress & anxiety, and can even help you sleep better. It's no surprise that many people own cats as emotional support animals, as studies show that cats help with depression and anxiety. Let's take a look into the many ways being a cat parent has serious mental health benefits & just makes life more enjoyable all around.
You have less screen time.
So much of our day is spent on our phones, at the computer, or just in front of a screen. Playing with your cat gives you phone free, quality time away from the screens that beckon our attention all day long. Feeling fatigue from another zoom meeting at work? Try taking a 10-15 minute break. Turn your phone off, call your kitty over (if they aren't already staking claim on "your" workspace) & have a quick play or cuddle session to break up the screen time. You & your kitty will feel refreshed and it will help you bond with them throughout the day.
They bring purpose and add healthy routines to your life.
Caring for something other than yourself gives a sense of responsibility & purpose, while adding a routine to your day. Having a cat to care for quite literally gives you a reason for getting up in the morning. Cats need to eat, need a clean litter box, and can't do many basic life-necessary things without you there. Having a cat that needs your attention throughout the day gives you something to focus on other than yourself, and helps you build a routine. Struggling with anxiety or feeling stuck in the monotony of every-day right now? Try going on a walk with your cat every morning right after you feed them. This will associate exercise & mental clarity with your kitty, and help give you motivation to start your day off on the right foot!
Getting outside more regularly.
This is obviously a topic we are very passionate about, and it's easy to see why. Getting outside instantaneously clears the mind and broadens our perspective to our surroundings. Doing this with your kitty, well, gives a whole new way to spend time with them & only increases the good vibes. While it is important for your kitty to get enrichment & play on a daily basis, it is also important for you! Focusing on getting outside every day is a great way to build a pattern to help your mental health, and give your kitty the variety that comes with just walking out your front door. You never know what kind of adventure awaits.
Increasing physical activity.
When your cat is active, you can be too. Spending time walking, hiking, or biking with your cat is a great way to get moving. Bringing them along for the ride doubles the fun and is great incentive to keep your body active. Having a pet increases your physical activity simply due to caring for them - taking them outside, going on walks, etc, and physical activity always benefits your mental health.
Appreciating simple things.
Cats are the reigning champs of this area. New toy? Great. Box that the new toy came in? Even better. Kitties could (and do) nap all day, eat, toss around some yarn, cuddle with you, and they are happy little campers. Having a pet shifts our perspective to things that really matter, like spending time with those we love and taking care of ourselves. While we might not be as easily entertained as cats and a laser beam pointed at the wall doesn't really do it for us, getting to tease them with it sure as hell does. Take a mental break from those feelings of discontent, worrying about something that can't change, and play with your cat. Chances are you will instantaneously smile and begin to appreciate the the simpler things like your furry friend does.
Boosting self confidence.
Pets are probably the least-judgey companions on the planet, and are always there to offer unconditional love. You know how people say to talk to yourself like you would talk to a friend? Pets are the embodiment of that mentality. Having a bad day? Your kitty doesn't love you any less. Lose your temper at work? Your cat's not gonna judge you for that. Forget to take out the trash? Cool, your cat literally doesn't notice.
The things we tend to beat ourselves up about on a daily basis are usually so small & inconsequential, and your cat doesn't even give two shits. It will still love you & purr when you scratch under their chin, even if you have been in yoga pants & your ratty high school hoodie for the past three days. Show yourself a little love!
Meeting new people in the cat community.
Here at Travel Cat, we have built a community of cat pawrents who encourage one another's love & devotion to their kitty! Having a community of like-minded pet people gives a sense of companionship & forms a support system you can go to when you need help. There are many ways to meet other cat parents - going on walks with your cat, visiting pet stores, cat cafes, joining our facebook group, and at our Travel Cat Virtual Events! Join Travel Cat Club to invest in the cat community & meet other cat parents like yourself - it's a great space to collaborate with others, get advice & tips on things like backpack & harness training, and just share in the joys of being a cat parent!
Check out this screenshot from one of our virtual hangout events, where we heard from Travel Cat parents around the world:
See what cat parents from our Cat Culture Community facebook group had to say about their kitties & mental health!
"My cats can pull a smile out of me on the worst of days. Doesn't matter what I'm going through, I know at the end of the day that I have them... so all will be fine." - Debbie
"I have a several diagnosed mental health conditions. Cats have saved my life. They are fantastic listeners, always know when you need a purr on your chest, and are huge motivators for life goals and even everyday chores! I am so thankful to be able to have many cats in my life in addition to my three because of my fostering and trap, neuter, return work. People say cats are ungrateful and mean but that couldn’t be farther from the truth!" - Emersen
"I am bipolar. My life changed when I got 2 kittens. I haven't had a bad episode since we got them, it's almost been a year! Everytime I see them, I smile. EVERY TIME!" - Delma
Cats make great listeners.
Who doesn't talk to their cat? Cats make great listeners when it comes to spilling our innermost thoughts and worries throughout the day, and not just because they can't talk back. But in all seriousness, having someone to talk to, whether that be a furry friend or a hooman, makes all the difference. Emotional support cats and kitties alike are the purrfect companions - they are always there, and don't have the emotional baggage of other hoomans... plus, they've got no where else to be right?
Cats make great therapy animals.
Any cat parent will tell you that having their kitty around makes their life infinitely better, and scientifically, they're exactly right. Studies show that interacting and playing with animals actually increases the amount of oxytocin in your brain, making people feel calmer and more comfortable. It can even help you focus better!
There is a reason that emotional support cats are a so effective - because they truly have the ability to reduce stress levels simply by being there, and knowing how to respond to your emotions. Even untrained animals can pick up on social cues and help comfort you when you're in emotional distress or simply feeling down. Whether your kitty curls up on your lap after a long day & starts purring, they nuzzle around your legs while you're doing dishes, or cheer you up with their goofy personality, cats are the perfect companion animal for someone who might suffer from anxiety or depression by just being themselves.
Cats can also help people suffering from trauma, PTSD, or people with sleep problems. Having a kitty sleep with you is actually proven to give a better night rest! Even if they do wake you up at 5am pawing your face. It's all out of love, after all.
Alongside the more emotional and unseen issues that cats help with, they are also found very effective at physically healing people they are around... crazy right?! It's all in the power of the purr.
Cat purring health benefits:
Aside from providing mental health benefits, a cat's purr has scientifically been proven to lower blood pressure... now if only doctors could prescribe that! Petting your cat actually produces a cycle of stress relief - as you pet them, they purr & it produces a calming effect that lowers stress levels, which in turn, makes you bond with them & pet them more. In fact, a cat's purr has even been proven to heal more than feelings of depression & anxiety. Cats purrs are extremely beneficial to our wellbeing, and can literally heal physical bones & other ailments with its medically therapeutic frequency of 20-140 Hz. The power of the purr is strong.
Most Affectionate Cat Breeds
Ragdoll cats are quite the loyal kitty. They love keeping track of their cat pawrents by following them around the house and are usually up for playing something interactive! These affectionate kitties make the perfect companion animal.
Maine Coone kitties have a classic case of FOMO (fear of missing out) and aren't afraid to show it. They will always want to be around ya & know no social bounds!
While these kitties are more cunning & clever than most, their energy is often mistaken as mischievousness because they simply want attention from their humans. Kinda cute, right? They are one of the most affectionate cat breeds out there & just want a little love & attention in return.
Sounds kind of silly, but these hairless cats love cuddling because, well, they need to keep warm. Makes sense! Give them a little snuggle sesh to help warm them up & get lots of quality cuddle time out of it. It's a give & take kind of relationship.
Persian cats are a whole mood. This low maintenance kitty just wants to be pet & fed. Seriously, this breed is well known for always wanting a snuggle & being content on the couch most of the time. Finally, someone to binge watch The Crown with... again. Pass the potato chips, please.
Birmans aren't just cuddly with their hoomans! These kitties are known for loving on other pets in the fam & get along great with just about anyone. You couldn't ask for a more affectionate & amiable furriend to have around!
Another low maintenance feline, these kitties adapt to their surroundings super easily & don't mind being ignored for a little while. They love a good pet & cuddle sesh, but also won't get petty about not getting too much attention. No wonder they make the perfect cat for families!
Aside from being so stinkin' cute, these cats are quite affectionate! Bombay cats are all about their people & will always be up for playtime or cuddles.
A cross-breed of Siamese & Burmese, these kitties are all about getting attention. They can be a little high maintenance, but will always return the favor with lots of love!
This ultra-loyal kitty is basically a mind-reader. They have an unmatched ability for figuring people out, and once you're in, you're in... in other words, prepare to never be without kitty snuggles again.
Conclusion: The Secret to Happiness is Having a Purrfect Cat
As if you didn't already know it, your fur baby is not only adorable & adventurous, but they add happiness, comfort, and more value to your life. They are the perfect pet, after all. Cats make great therapy animals, help lower stress levels, provide a sense of companionship & snuggles galore. Give them an extra million hugs & kisses for how much joy they add to every day!
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