I got Paulie when he was only 4 months old. A little ginger fur ball, he grew up to be a frisky and playful house cat. The day I’ll always remember was when I got the flu and I thought my head weighed about 2 tons. I still had to go to work. Somehow, I managed to get through it, came home about 7 PM and just crashed on the couch the second I had my foot in the apartment. I was laying there, thinking about the nothingness that permeates this earthly life, when Paulie ran up to me and jumped on my chest. He made himself comfortable and started to purr. After about 20 minutes, I found myself much calmer and started to think about whether cats can really suck the negative energy out from a human being, as I heard (and disbelieved) when other people talked about it.
Apparently, I wasn’t the only one that asked that question, and I found studies on how owning and spending time with pets, such as cats, can significantly benefit your health, especially older people. They have better overall health, cope better with stress, and are more active.
Why are cats so good for elderly people?
Cats encourage lots of petting and need feeding. In other words, they need to be taken care of, and this requires certain actions from their owners. Even if it’s just brushing a cat, it helps keep joints flexible and limber, and benefits the cardiovascular system. These are all minor exercises that help elderly cat owners performs all their normal, daily activities.
Cats are a source of companionship
For older people who don’t have close friends or family nearby, cats can act as a support system. Elderly people don’t have a chance to see many people that often, due to having trouble leaving home, and cats can help them fight depression (one of the most common problem which older people face), by enabling them to play and interact. Simply with the need to take them to the vet, older people have a chance to get exposed to other people more often. Cats provide more physical contact, which leads to decreased temperature, reduce risk of heart disease, and lower blood pressure.
Older people often say how their lives have become lonely and barren, and cats can lessen the loneliness and reduce depression. They are active animals and their companionship can mean a lot to elderly people.
A sense of purpose
My grandmother chose to live in one of the over 50’s resorts that accept pets, and she tells me that her Siamese cat Millie is the reason she gets up in the morning. Again, I realized how such a small and cute creature can give someone a sense of purpose. It helps her stick to her regular routines, such as getting up on time in the morning, going outside, and buying food, motivating her to sleep and eat regularly.
As a senior who owns a cat, I noticed that she takes better care of herself. Older people understand that they have a responsibility in their lives, which makes their days more dynamic, and eventually improves their physical and mental health. Another interesting thing is that, when a senior owns a cat, family members with children tend to visit more often, which provides more company and interaction with adults for the elderly, as well as an opportunity for them to interact with their youngest ones, with the cat as a common ground of interest.
Devotion, understanding, and companionship are beneficial to the elderly. You may not believe it (as I didn’t), but the simple act of owning a cat to cuddle on their lap can make a huge difference in the life of a senior.
About the author
Gabriella is a working mom of two kids, one dog and two cats. She lives in Sidney and writes for several lifestyle blogs.