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Are Cats Good for Anxiety?

One of the reasons some people are excited to bring a cat home is they are reputed to help to soothe anxiety. The companionship of a purring cat is a beautiful, soothing thing – but does it really help?

Today we’re taking a look to help you make a decision about whether getting a cat would be the right move.

The Upsides

There are lots of upsides to getting a pet cat – lots of ways they can have a positive effect on your mental health, your wellbeing and life in general.

Spending time petting a cat after a stressful day has been shown by studies to help relax you, boosting the number of endorphins in your brain and stress reducing hormones in your body. In the long term, cat owners have been shown to have a reduced risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Cats also provide vital companionship, which can be even more important for anxiety. Coming home to the reliable presence of your pet cat grounds you, helps you focus on something other than spiraling thoughts and worries. Some studies even show that having a pet cat provides an equivalent level of companionship and connection to a romantic relationship.

Then there’s the purring – studies have shown that the frequency of a pet cat’s purrs is within a range that can have therapeutic effects. While it’s unlikely to replace a trip to the doctor, sitting with a purring cat on your lap when you’re feeling under the weather might just provide more than psychosomatic comfort.

The Downsides

Unfortunately, it’s not a clear cut issue. There are some aspects of cat ownership that are decidedly stressful – and may make a cat an inappropriate pet for you.

Cats can be as prey to sickness and injury as we are, from upset stomachs, to cuts and falls to chronic issues like diabetes and arthritis. Vomiting in cats isn’t often a serious symptom, but it is unpleasant to deal with, and can cause damage to carpets, rugs and (if you’re unlucky clothes).

More serious illnesses, as well vaccinations and flea protection will require visits to a vet, and this along with having to buy food, cat litter, toys and bedding mean cats can exert a financial pressure. It’s not difficult to afford a cat if you budget carefully, but if you’re already worried about money then it might add to your stress rather than relieve it!

And finally, there’s the temperament of your cat to think about. There’s no guarantee your cat will be a calm and cuddly one, whether you adopt or buy a kitten. You need to be ready to adapt to your cat’s personality – if it’s an independent, fierce hunter then you might simply not get the purring companion you hoped for, and unfortunately, you have to respect that. That disappointment could leave you in more distress than simply not having a cat, so think carefully about the realities you may have to adapt to.

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