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Is raising cats harmful or beneficial to health? Little known health benefits of having a cat

The following article is shared by BSCK2 Huynh Tan Vu, Head of Day Treatment Department, University of Medicine and Pharmacy Hospital, Ho Chi Minh City about the health effects of raising cats and notes for those who are taking care of this pet:

Cats are an extremely familiar pet of every home whether in Vietnam or abroad, because they are very cute, lovely and extremely mischievous and charming. Cats are not only great pets, friends and more, but they also bring many ecological and health-promoting benefits to owners and those around them.

Here are some unexpected benefits of having a cat that few people know:

Reduce stress, improve mood

Stress is not good for the body because it can cause disease risks such as heart disease, headaches, depression, and eventually lead to premature death. Therefore, relieving stress is a good way to stay healthy. Having a cat can help our bodies release chemicals that calm the nervous system, helping to reduce stress and anxiety levels for fun and entertainment.

Petting and playing with cats can boost your mood. (Illustration)

Although they are independent animals that love to cuddle, pick up items and explore in their own way, cats are also very affectionate towards their owners and those they trust. Most cats love to curl up in their owners’ laps when they watch TV or read a book after a long day at work. This simple act of cat can cause an owner’s brain to release all the right chemicals, making it easier for them to enter a relaxing evening, reducing stress and anxiety.

When owners regularly spend time playing, petting, pampering their lovely cat, their bodies produce serotonin (also known as the happiness hormone) – a chemical that improves mood. When the mood is happy, the emotions are balanced, the body and health are also better. Research also shows that the natural snores emitted when cats sleep next to them can help reduce stress and tension as well as lower blood pressure for owners.

Cats are also funny, humorous animals that create endless laughter for those who observe or play with it. Studies have found that watching 20 minutes of funny cat clips significantly reduces cortisol (stress hormone) levels and supports short-term memory in the elderly. Furthermore, smiling has been linked to a healthy heart and immune system.

Reducing stress in adults with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia

Patients with Alzheimer’s may exhibit a variety of problems with behavior or the ability to cope with stress. Research at the University of California (USA) concluded that Alzheimer’s patients experience less stress and less anxiety outbreaks if there are dogs or cats in the house. Pets can provide a source of positive, nonverbal communication. Playful interaction and gentle touch from a well-trained, docile animal can help calm Alzheimer’s patients and reduce aggressive behavior.

Playing with cats helps reduce stress. (Illustration)

In many cases, the patient’s problematic behavior is a response to the primary caregiver’s stressful attitude. Pets can help reduce stress for patients and caregivers. Cats are more suitable pets than dogs because dogs often require more care and play and can create an additional burden on people caring for Alzheimer’s patients.

Create love

Playing and stroking the soft fur of cats also helps our bodies release oxytocin – a hormone that creates feelings of love and trust with ourselves or with others. Love is proven to be very beneficial for health. In addition, when someone (human or animal) makes us feel good and connected, we develop kindness and generosity towards others. The same goes for keeping cats and playing with them.

Creating allergy immunity from cat fur

We’ve all heard that cat hair is one of the most common allergens. Researcher James E. Gern, a pediatrician at the University of Wisconsin – Madison also told the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology that: “The old thinking is that if your family has pets, children have more the possibility of pet allergies. And if you come from an allergy-prone family, you should avoid having a pet.”

However, a growing body of research suggests that children who grow up in homes with “furry animals” – whether it’s a pet dog or cat, or on a farm and exposed to large animals – will less likely to develop allergies and asthma. And if a child is exposed to cats during the first few years of life, they are more likely to develop an immune system against not only cat allergies but other types of allergens.

James Gern himself did a study and found that children who live with furry pets – like cats – are 19 percent less likely to have allergies than children who don’t live with animals. at home (33%). They were also less likely to develop eczema and had higher levels of certain immune system chemicals (a marker of stronger immune system activation).

Owning a cat can bring many health benefits. (Illustration)

Protect the heart

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Stress is the number one enemy of cardiovascular disease. According to Blair Justice, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Texas School of Public Health (USA): People in a stressful mode will fall into an “uncomfortable state,” in which chemicals are harmful. such as cortisol and norepinephrine released by the body during stress can negatively affect the immune system. Studies show a link between these chemicals and the buildup of plaque in the arteries, a warning sign of heart disease.

In addition, stress also has a bad effect, causing blood pressure to rise suddenly, increasing blood sugar and cholesterol levels, boredom making us lazy to exercise and eat more carelessly. Therefore, playing with a lovely cat can help us relax, reduce stress and tension, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

According to research from the University of Minnesota (USA), cat owners are 40% less likely to have a heart attack than non-cat owners. Owning a cat will reduce the risk of dying from a sudden heart attack, reduce heart disease, reduce stress …

Reduce blood cholesterol

High blood cholesterol is one of the common risk factors for cardiovascular diseases (such as myocardial infarction, stroke …) and metabolic syndrome. High blood cholesterol is usually not dangerous, but related diseases can be the cause of death, so it is necessary to control blood cholesterol well at any stage.

There are many methods of good control of hypercholesterolemia such as exercise, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, keeping the mind relaxed, and combining with or without medication depending on the condition of each person. And another quite interesting method is raising cats. Studies have shown that pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels than non-pet owners. In addition, stroking and playing with a pet cat is also a form of exercise that helps blood circulation, mental relaxation, and helps reduce cholesterol in the body effectively.

Prevent high blood pressure

According to research from the University of Buffalo (USA), for cat owners and people with a history of blood pressure, petting cats will help calm and reduce blood pressure. In another study, stockbrokers with high blood pressure who adopted a dog or cat had lower blood pressure readings in stressful situations than those who didn’t have a pet. And a study done with a room full of cat owners found that owners who talked loudly raised their blood pressure naturally, but when they observed owners talking to their cats, their blood pressure they remain unchanged. This suggests that owning a cat can help prevent hypertension due to the calming presence that cats bring.

Contributing to community integration for children with autism

Some children with autism or other learning difficulties are better able to interact with pets than people. Children with autism often rely on nonverbal cues to communicate, as do animals. And learning to connect with a pet for the first time can even help autistic children interact with people.

Making friends with cats can help children increase their ability to interact with people. (Illustration)

Pets can help children with autism learn to manage stress and self-soothe, making them better equipped to handle the challenges of the disorder. Playing and exercising with a dog or cat can help children stay alert and attentive throughout the day, thereby reducing stress and frustration caused by learning disabilities. This is also considered one of the most effective and natural treatments for children with autism or other learning difficulties, helping them recover early and integrate into the community.

The great writer Charles Dickens also praised and admitted: “There is no greater love than the love of a cat!” Let’s love and be closer to them to realize more values ​​of life. However, before adopting a cat, you should also pay attention to the health problems of family members such as cat fur allergy and should be vaccinated against cat diseases to protect your health as well. like my family.

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