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The health benefits of owning a cat – International Cat Day

Outgoing, free and independent. 

These are three words that paint a picture of our best selves. 

But they also describe the personality of a common cat. We’ve spoken about the health benefits of having a pet before, but cats can provide the perfect form of company – without demanding too much. To celebrate International Cat Day (on the 8th August), here are the benefits of having a feline friend. 

What are the health benefits of owning a cat?

A survey conducted by Cats Protection and the Mental Health Foundation on over 600 cat and non-cat owners found that 87 per cent of owners felt it had a positive impact on their wellbeing. What’s more, 76 per cent said they could cope with everyday life much better with a cat.

“There’s no doubt that keeping any kind of pet can help us to feel happier,” says Elaine Pendlebury, Senior Vet at PDSA.

But even the simple act of stroking a cat can be therapeutic, boosting our mental health. What’s more, it doesn’t have to be the real thing. If you suffer from a fur allergy, a robocat could be the perfect stress reliever. As part of their Joy for All range, toymaker Hasbro has developed a robotic cat which uses sensors to react to human interaction. It even purs, which is important as these vibrations are thought to benefit our wellbeing.

But as well as boosting our mental health, cats can provide physical benefits too. And although it’s dogs that get the most exposure in this area – even detecting disease – research makes a case for cats too.

Professor Adnan Qureshi carried out a study on 4,435 adults aged between 30 and 75; half of the participants owned a cat. The results showed that owning a cat actually reduced the risk of heart attacks and strokes by more than a third

“The logical explanation may be that cat ownership relieves stress and anxiety and subsequently reduces the risk of heart disease,” said Qureshi.

What if your circumstances change?

Getting a cat can still be a life-changing decision. And despite having the best intentions, our circumstances can quickly change – especially in later life. So what happens if our health deteriorates? Or if we move into sheltered accommodation?

The Cinnamon Trust is a national charity which aims to keep owners and their pets together for as long as possible. They have a UK network of volunteers that can help with day-to-day care. The charity can also arrange for your pet to be fostered if you become ill or have to go into hospital.

If you do have to go into sheltered accommodation, housingcare.org provides an extensive list of pet-friendly care and retirement homes in the UK. However, organisations like Cats Protection can help you rehome your pet if you can’t take it with you.

Finally, Cat Guardians (through Cats Protection) will ensure that your cat is cared for if anything happens to you. You can be reassured that the organisation is dedicated to rehoming and will never put a healthy animal down. For more information about how to register, visit the Cats Protection website.

Whether you’re looking for a companion, or are happy living alone, our telecare services can help you live more independently. For more information about personal alarms email: info@welbeing.org.uk or call us on 01323 644422.

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