If you want to lower your blood pressure and heart rate, volunteer some time with a cat shelter or rescue. If you want to see even better results, become a cat owner.
A Cornwall College scientist has completed a study entitled “Does cat attachment have an effect on human health?,” that provides evidence owning or being with cats results in being more relaxed both mentally and physically.
Published in “Pet Behaviour Science,” a peer reviewed scientific journal, college student Filipa Denis admits to always having wanted to do research involving cats. In considering the effect animal relationships have on humans, she found far more research available on dogs than cats, giving her both motive and opportunity to formulate her study.
She had a decided interest in the bonding effects of cats as people view their pets and their relationships with them in different ways. Starting within a household, understanding that people under the same roof may each have their own relationship with the family cat, she grew that thought process into comparing shelter volunteers to cat owners.
While her study did show that people who worked in volunteer situations with cats did exhibit health benefits in the areas of blood pressure and heart rate, the effects proved far bigger for owners. It also showed that the more attached an owner was to their feline, there was a substantially greater calming effect, as well. The research also raises the question as to the health benefits of a cat in an environment, such as the workplace, and to what level for people who do not have the same familiarity with the animal as a household pet.
The good news is that for those who are fond of felines but perhaps not in a situation that allows them the freedom to have a cat of their own, spending time at a local shelter, rescue, or humane society does offer some of those same identified health benefits while those animals are benefiting, as well. This perhaps gives those organizations another angle to encourage volunteerism in their communities.
Certainly aspects such as personal lifestyle choices, state of both mental and physical health and well-being, and the location in which the actual research takes place will have bearing on the outcome, but it does set up nicely the opportunity for further study.
That said, most cat owners will probably be happy to share that they already knew that.