Pawsitive Impact: How Cats Boost Mental Wellness

One surprising solution to enhancing overall well-being may be as simple as owning a cat. The companionship and bond formed with these pawdorable friends have positive effects on mental health, claims animal scientists.


Reasons to Own a Cat: Mental Health Benefits 

From improving our moods to providing us a sense of calm with their healing purrs, here are the science-backed benefits of having a cat.

1. Have a Healthier Heart

Having any pet is good for the heart. But cats, in particular, can lower your stress and anxiety levels. A decade-long observational study concluded that cat owners were up to 30 percent less likely to die from a cardiovascular condition than non-cat owners. Even the simple act of petting a cat and watching its playful (and sometimes sassy) antics can distract from daily worries, allowing owners to unwind.


2. Receive Emotional Support

Countless anecdotes and stories attest to the emotional healing and upliftment a cat can bring to its owner’s life. Cats possess an intuitive sense when it comes to human emotions, exhibiting empathetic behavior and offering support during challenging times. Whether it’s a gentle purr or a comforting presence by your side, a kitty companion can provide solace and reduce feelings of sadness or grief.


3. Establish Healthier Habits

Caring for another living creature can improve the ways we care for ourselves. Cats thrive on routines. Their feeding, grooming, and playtime schedules can help foster a healthy routine for their human companions, too.

On days when we feel down and unmotivated, having a cat or two (or a dozen because who’s counting?) gives us a compelling reason to rise and shine. Whether through persevering meows, a gentle nudge, an unexpected hairball incident on the bed, or the litter box’s smell invading our senses, feline companions remind us that it’s time to get up and start the day. Cats have a unique knack for keeping us accountable and on the right path, contributing to a positive mindset.


4. Heal and Recover from Trauma

A wealth of evidence demonstrates that cats are helpful to those with mental health conditions, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from cancer. A cat’s purr can be cathartic for humans, providing a comforting sound that mitigates stress.


5. Improve Sleep Quality

We refer to “naps” as “catnaps” for a reason! Research shows that owners have an easier time falling and staying asleep when they let their cats cuddle beside them in bed.

A cat’s presence can calm our nervous systems. Allowing them to lay beside us as they purr and get comfortable may help us fall asleep faster. Compared to dogs and other pets, cats are also quieter and wake fewer times throughout the night, minimizing disruptions during sleep.

Remember, lack of sleep can contribute to developing or worsening depressive symptoms. While pets can’t cure mental health conditions, owning a cat may help individuals cope by providing all of the above.


Adopt a Cat Today: Save an Animal and Improve Your Mental Wellness

Owning a cat can be a transformative experience for mental health. If you’re looking for a furry companion to brighten your life and enhance your well-being, consider adopting a cat from your local shelter or a rescue organization. You can also use Petfinder to find your purrfect match and celebrate Hug Your Cat Day every day. Just make sure you’re ready to be a paw parent.


Once you embrace the love, joy, and healing power a cat can bring to your home and life, you may find yourself on a path toward improved emotional well-being.