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71% of cat owners say that this little ball of fur increases their well-being.
STRESS – Whether in our homes or in new unusual places like that of “cat bars and cafes”our feline friends seem to be more and more present in our daily lives.
In France, cats are the most adopted animals, even before dogs. No less than 14.2 million cats were adopted in 2021 (Dumonteil, 2021).
So how is it that cats are so appreciated by the French? Do they affect our well-being? And more particularly on our mental well-being?
The cat and its soft purr
For a majority of people, the purring of the cat is associated with a soothing, relaxing element.
These characteristics of purring have been highlighted by Jean-Yves Gauchet, veterinarian in Toulouse, who explains to us that purring emits soothing and tranquilizing sound waves. An effect similar to that which can be found when listening to music.
In the same vein, Véronique Aïache, health journalist and author of “La Ronron Therapy” reports results showing that purring proves to be “a powerful anti-stress, blood pressure regulator, immune defense booster and psychomotor support”.
Our special relationship with the cat
The relationship that we maintain with our friend the cat denotes that maintained with our fellow human beings.
With cats, we experience a relationship without judgment, without demands and without societal rules. This reduction in calculation and mental load during our interactions with cats, allows us to benefit from a fluid and authentic relationship. By the nature of this relationship, our vigilance decreases, because we feel confident and therefore our stress also decreases.
Also, we can take the example of a cat being petted.
After a while, it starts to purr. Naturally, we attribute to the cat the fact that he is content, happy. Which also makes us automatically feel these states through the process of emotional contagion.
Depending on the importance and the attention associated with the chat, this process of emotional contagion will be more or less intense (Favre, D., Joly, J., Reynaud, C., & Salvador, LL, 2005).
It is interesting to note that this phenomenon, applicable to humans, is also applicable to certain pets.
In the same idea, pets and in particular cats help to reduce the feeling of loneliness. The cat will be assigned a social support role, such as friends or family.
It is not for nothing that isolated people are advised to acquire a pet such as a cat, which alleviates social isolation, the feeling of loneliness and the sadness that results from it (McConnell et al. , 2011).
Cats, masters in the art of prevention?
The influence of our feline friends also seems to be observed on our physical well-being.
A study by Qureshi et al. (2009) show that owners of a cat have a lower rate of myocardial infarction than those who have never had a cat.
On the register of mental well-being, the influence of the cat is also surprising. People with a cat would rate their depressive symptoms with less intensity compared to other people with other animals or without.
One of the interpretations behind these results is that the level of well-being of the person having a cat and the one not having one differs. Indeed, the person with a cat seems to have a higher level of well-being (physical and mental) than the one who does not have one.
If we refer to the definition of well-being of the World Health Organization (WHO), well-being would be: “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, which does not consist merely of the absence of disease or infirmity”. The cat would therefore have a good influence on the physical, mental and social spheres, as observed through this article.
In addition to being real stress relievers, cats contribute significantly to our overall well-being, both physical and mental.
- Albisson, F. (2021). Cats, a species controlled within a hospital. The Nurse’s Review, 70(273), 35-36.
- Favre, D., Joly, J., Reynaud, C., & Salvador, LL (2005). Empathy, emotional contagion and disconnection from emotions. Childhood, 57(4), 363.
- Dumonteil, P. (2021, January 30). The pet adoption market is doing well. BFM BUSINESS.
- McConnell, AR, Brown, CM, Shoda, TM, Staylon, LE, Martin, CE (2011). Friends with benefits: on the positive consequences of pet ownership. Journal of personality and social psychology, 101 (6). 1239.
- Qureshi A., Memon M., Vazquez G. et al. (2009). Cat ownership and the risk of fatal cardiovascular diseases. Results from the Second National Health and Nutrition Examination Study Mortality Follow-up Study. J Vasc Int Neurol, 2: 132-5.
See also on The HuffPost: 3 things you didn’t know about your cat