We tend to know it instinctively and individually, but a survey has confirmed that the companionship of cats is beneficial for our mental health and sense of well-being.
Last month, Cats Protection, the UK’s leading feline welfare charity, reminded people of the positive impact cats can have on mental well-being. World Mental Health Day was observed on Saturday, October 10.
A survey conducted by Cats Protection and the Mental Health Foundation found that 87 per cent of people who owned a cat felt it had a positive impact on their wellbeing, while 76 per cent said they could cope with everyday life much better thanks to the company of their feline friends. Half of the cat owners felt that their cat’s presence and companionship was most helpful, followed by a third of respondents describing stroking a cat as a calming and helpful activity.
The study was carried out in July and August 2011 and involved over 600 cat and non-cat-owning respondents, with half of them describing themselves as currently having a mental health problem.
With ‘Dignity in Mental Health’ being the theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day, Cats Protection is keen to highlight how looking after a pet can bring structure to people’s day, reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness and even lower blood pressure.
In addition to this, a cat’s purr is widely recognised as having therapeutic benefits for humans.
“Sitting with a relaxed purring cat at the end of a hectic day is a soothing massage for the soul,” said Cat Jarvis from Cats Protection. “Perhaps this is because the reassuring hum is generally associated with calmness and gentle communication, or perhaps it is because the frequency of the vibration is in the range that can stimulate healing.”
“The research findings tell us what cat lovers have known for years – cats are not just great company but they can also be very good for you.”