Tuesday, June 16, 2009 2:55 PM

Cats: Part of a Healthy Lifestyle


We all know cats are fun to have around. They're warm and fuzzy, cute as a bug's ear, lovey-dovey and smart as a whip (whew-that's got to be a record of some kind...). But did you know that they are actually good for your health? Well, assuming you're not allergic, anyway! I remember reading many years ago about a study in which volunteers sat, relaxed, while petting a cat. Researchers measured their blood pressure before, during and after the "petting" session and found that in almost every case, the subject's blood pressure decreased by a statistically significant degree while engaged in this pleasant activity. It wasn't just the sitting and relaxing part, either. They had volunteers in relaxed positions sans cat and the effect was not the same. The study had to do with not only blood pressure, but also stress relief, I believe. For many years after we saw those research results J. would joke that, whenever he wound up with a cat on his lap he was only putting up with it to "lower his blood pressure." Yeah, right.

Recently, Clean Eating magazine had an article on "stress busting" in which the author Peggy Hall claimed that cuddling is an effective stress reliever and that, "...there are very few things that can't be cured by curling up with a purring kitty-cat". I have found this to be true, as well. Additionally, everyone knows that laughter relieves stress and strengthens the immune system, right? Well, if you didn't, the February '09 Natural Health reports that recent studies at Loma Linda University in California have found that laughter actually increases the number and effectiveness of white blood cells, T-cells and antibodies and decreases stress hormones!

How did that research involve cats, you ask? Well, literally, it didn't. But anyone who's ever owned cats knows what a laugh riot they can be. Start with kittens. Sure, they're a pain in the butt on occasion, but--boy, are they funny! They attack everything like they really mean it (including each other), jump straight up in the air for no reason and, often right in the middle of a play session, will fall over, asleep. We still laugh about the time we decided to keep the kittens from going upstairs to the bedrooms by barricading the stairway with cardboard and chairs. Within 10 seconds they had dismantled our work, and all three were running around the second floor like maniacs. Also, in trying to keep them off of the furniture, I developed "windmill arms" since as soon as I taken one off the chair or sofa, another was there to take his or her place. That's a standing joke, as well. As they grew, they calmed down a little, but we still get a good laugh out of something crazy they do at least daily.

So Cute: Speaking of crazy, that's Miss P.'s youngster Punkin gracing the blog space today. He's about 3 yrs. old now and really nutty. Between Punk and our own cats, it's no wonder J. and I are so healthy!
Chat later!

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Amanda
Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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