Cats require little maintenance and are excellent indoor companions and domestic pets. They have a reputation for being aloof and independent. There are always individual cats that are different but for the most part, they are affectionate creatures that enjoy attention and promote better health in their owners.
Cat owners do a great deal to properly care for their feline family members. Good food, regular vet care and environmental enrichment are all part and parcel of caring for a pet. However, cats do plenty for us in return.
* Cats provide companionship. This is particularly important for those who live alone and can feel isolated and lonely. Coming home to a warm furry friend that’s glad to see you can make a big difference to someone’s life. With the advent of social media, having a cat can give a person something in common with others – forums and groups about cats are a valid source of friendship and good conversation.
* In a similar vein, cats can provide something to nurture. For those who don’t have loved ones to care for, a cat can be something to focus their attention on. This is being seen more and more as people treat their pets as a child substitute.
* While there is a need for further research, it appears that children exposed to cats may have a reduced risk of asthma and allergies.
* People who grow up with a cat appear to have more empathy and are better able to take into consideration what other people are thinking or feeling. This is particularly the case with children who can tend to be focused on themselves and their needs.
* Owning a cat can positively influence blood pressure and stress levels which can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. The Minnesota Stroke Institute studied 4000 cat owners over 10 years. They suggest that cat owners were 30% less likely to have a heart attack.
* Stroking a purring cat can make a big difference to a person’s mood. Cat ownership can be of great help to people suffering from anxiety and depression.
Given there are so many benefits to cat ownership, are there any disadvantages to sharing your life with a cat?
There are, but in most cases, they are manageable.
There is the cost of cat care – food, veterinary care, parasite control can all add up. Some people have a busy lifestyle and just don’t have time to look after a cat. This can be because of their work schedule or because of the demands of a young family. It’s not enough to just put down a food bowl or clean out a litter box. Although cats can be independent, it’s not fair to bring a cat into your life if you really don’t have time to pay them any attention.
If you have the time and budget to share your life with a cat, you’ll enjoy a number of benefits that will make your family healthier and happier.
Article courtesy Dr Rosie Brown BVSc (Hons)
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