By: Robin Desmet – Nov. 2018
My boyfriend Paul tells me all the time that his cat Goldy brings down his high blood pressure. I used to chuckle when he said that, but after doing some research on the subject, I have learned that this actually may be true. In fact, there was a study done on the subject back in the 1970s.
I know a lot has changed since the 1970s, but I’m pretty sure that cats haven’t changed that much over the years. The study took place over a 20 year time span and included over 4000 participants. Results of the study showed that owning a cat can reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke by more than 30%. Not bad. Now I am not suggesting you throw away your antihypertensive medications, but I do think this study speaks to what I have always known. Animals can definitely help improve your health and well-being.
A couple of years ago I was admitted to the hospital in a tremendous amount of pain and I ended up having emergency surgery. When I arrived home the next day I went straight to the living room and lay down on the couch, fatigued and quite sore. As if on cue, my 6 little MSPCA foster kittens immediately piled onto my legs. All 6 kittens began a symphony of purring that brought an immediate smile to my face. I don’t think I have ever felt more relaxed in my life. I spent the better part of the week on the couch with those kittens, listening to their sweet purring, resting and recuperating. I swear they helped me heal.
Turns out, this could be true. Science has shown that the frequency of the vibrations from a cats purr can actually promote healing. These low intensity vibrations have been shown to help with many medical conditions, including improving bone health, tendon repair, and wound healing. NASA has been using vibration therapy for years to strengthen the bones and muscles of its astronauts. This type of vibrational therapy, which is at the same frequency as a cat’s purr, is now being used to treat chronic pain associated with arthritis and to help reduce muscle pain and soreness in athletes. Vibration therapy is also being used for migraine relief and to help improve circulation.
Despite all this talk of vibrations and purring, I think the most important health benefits that cats provide are emotional, not physical. I don’t think it can be disputed that cat ownership improves mood and helps reduce stress and anxiety. Cats have a way of soothing the soul and bringing joy into the home. Their purrs bring instant peace and relaxation. They can wipe away the stresses of the day with their silly antics and exuberant play. Can cats really help you heal? I am not sure, but I do know this—they definitely can make you feel better.
Author: Robin Desmet, Rph and MSPCA volunteer ◊