are cats good for mental health

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.

While dog owners will adamantly assert that their dogs are the best friends, cat lovers understand that there is no friendship quite like that of felines. Just by being around them, cats give us a sense of companionship and can lift our spirits. They provide us with the same level of love, affection, and friendship as dogs but are typically less maintenance.

Studies have indicated that, in spite of claims made by dog owners, cat owners might generally have superior people skills. Owners of cats typically lean toward sensitivity, whereas owners of dogs reported being more dominant in nature. Additionally, it seemed that cat owners had higher IQs, were more trusting of other people, and were more open-minded. These qualities can be transferred from our interactions with our four-legged friends to those with other people.

Two of the most prevalent mental health conditions in the world are anxiety and depression, and getting access to mental health support services can be difficult for a variety of reasons. Our cats can provide us a sense of comfort and camaraderie while reducing our feelings of loneliness. Just by providing a brief diversion from our intrusive thoughts, cuddling, holding, petting, or even just sitting together with our cats can greatly lessen feelings of anxiety.

Taking care of a fellow living being can enhance our self-care practices. Our cats give us motivation to get out of bed on the days when life is too hard and you don’t think you can handle it. Your cat will always remind you to get up and fill their bowl in the morning, whether it’s by a gentle nuzzle, a persistent meow, or a hairball cough in the middle of your bed. It’s safe to say that cats have a unique ability to help us stay on course.

Nothing compares to the sensation of a warm, fluffy cat curled up on your lap. Research has indicated that cats provide a relaxing and stress-relieving effect on human health, and owners of cats are up to 30% less likely to suffer from heart diseases. In fact, cats have such strong stress-relieving abilities that we can feel much better just by watching videos of them. It’s difficult to feel anxious while staring at a content cat!

Upon being asked how much they worried about various pet-related stressors, pet owners expressed the greatest concern about their pets’ aging or passing away (71%), as well as their health conditions (66%). More than half also expressed concern over plans made while traveling (56%) and costs associated with healthcare (58%)

A significant majority of pet owners (86%) stated that their animals have a mostly positive effect on their mental health. Owners of dogs (87%) and cats (86%), on the other hand, were equally likely to say as much, while owners of other pets (62%), were less likely. The vast majority of pet owners (88%) stated that they view their animals as members of their family. The poll was fielded by Morning Consult Feb. 10–12, 2023, with a sample size of 2,200 adults and a two percentage point margin of error

The survey respondents were divided into three groups: 50% said they had dogs, 35% said they had cats, and 31% said they did not have any pets at home. About 3% of the pets that were identified included fish, birds, turtles, and more.

Compared to dog owners, cat owners were more likely to say that their animals offer companionship, a calming presence, and assistance in lowering stress and anxiety. Owners of dogs were twice as likely as owners of cats to state that their pet motivates them to exercise.

APA invites you to share the word and pictures of your pets this month on social media with the hashtag #Paws4MentalHealth. Learn more.

FAQ

Are cats good for your anxiety?

Petting or cuddling your cat can reduce the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in your body,” she says. “This leads to feelings of calm and happiness, decreased heart rate and blood pressure, and a calming of anxiety.” Furthermore, adds Fallon, being around a cat can help take our minds off negative thoughts.

Should I get a pet if I’m depressed?

Having a pet changes our lifestyle by increasing our physical activity. Pets teach us to spend more time outdoors and help create natural moments to socialize with others. These lifestyle changes can help decrease symptoms of mild depression in those who suffer.

What pet helps with anxiety?

The mental health benefits of owning a dog or cat have been proven by many scientific studies. Animals help with depression, anxiety, and stress. In addition, they provide companionship and ease loneliness.

Can cats sense your mental health?

Overall, these studies prove that cats can interpret human emotions, including depression and anxiety, to a certain degree. Your cat will often act in accordance with the visual and auditory cues that you are giving off, such as crying or anxious motion, and they will change their behavior correspondingly.