The Hervey Foundation for Cats
The Link Between Cat Ownership and a Healthy Brain

The Link Between Cat Ownership and a Healthy Brain

It might sound odd to hear a person claim that a cat keeps their brain healthy, but truth is often stranger than fiction. If you’ve owned a pet before, you already know how enriching the experience can be, but owning a cat, specifically, comes with its own set of rewards that don’t just keep the mind happy, they keep the soul fulfilled.

The Calming Effect

Numerous studies over the years have shown the calming effect cats have on their owners, be they physical or mental. 

For instance, living in the presence of a feline has proven to have multiple cardiovascular benefits, including reducing blood pressure, and instances of heart attacks or strokes. 

For those suffering from stress, anxiety, or PTSD, it has been proven that owning a cat can significantly reduce symptoms experienced. Their undying love, comfort, and companionship cannot be replaced. An animal that loves and trusts their human will always show them love and respect – which can mean a lot to a person who feels alone or trapped by their mental health. 

The following is a quote from a guest author on the website Sick, Not Weak, discussing their experiences living with anxiety, and how their cat helped them: 

“When I brought Zola home, I didn’t have to be alone with my anxieties anymore. If I felt stressed, I could go lay next to her and snuggle. If she sensed I was panicking, she would scratch me (an unusual but effective way of bringing me out of my spinning thoughts). Little by little my mental health improved, and I’ve learned a lot of hard lessons.”

Responsibility and Purpose

We all need purpose in our lives, and unfortunately for some, it can be difficult to find that purpose or feel a sense of it. Taking care of a cat may seem simple, but the routine of feeding them, petting them, and changing their litter can be just the right amount of responsibility to help a person suffering from depression or anxiety.

According to some researchers, knowing your cat depends on you to take care of them and help them get through life can not only contribute to happiness but overall health as well!

Boost to Cognitive Health

A six-year study from 2010-2016 followed 1,400 pet owners, all over the age of 65, all presenting normal cognitive ability. Throughout the study period, researchers noticed that cognitive abilities decreased slower in participants with pets than in those without, and the results were even more prominent in those who had owned pets for five years or longer. By the end of the study, long-term pet owners had an average of 5% higher cognitive scores overall.

There are some theories as to why this trend may have surfaced. Stress relief is one. As time goes on, we learn more and more about the negative effects stress has on our bodies. By having a pet to reduce stress, cognitive ability likely suffered less. Another element researchers considered was physical activity. Cats need physical activity to stay healthy, and in many cases, they rely on their owners. For those living with a pet, the additional activity required to play with the pet each week might have been enough to stay sharp!

Final Thoughts

Veterinarians have been saying it for years, and we are now just finally starting to see what they see. The human/animal bond cannot be compared to anything else in the world. It requires patience, kindness, and understanding, and the rewards are obvious. People who live among animals, and learn to care for them, stand a much stronger chance of living a longer, happier life! 

As far as cats are concerned, we truly believe they bring another edge. Cats are careful, calculated and curious. They have a joie-de-vivre that cannot be replicated, and they make excellent apartment/housemates. Their calm demeanours are inspiring, and their ability to make us laugh and smile goes a very long way.


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