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How Cats Help Humans Across the World Get Through Lockdowns & Life

Written by: Crystal Uys

Last Updated on June 21, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Cat Man Tattoo Sitting Owner

How Cats Help Humans Across the World Get Through Lockdowns & Life

Those of us who are diehard cat lovers already have a good idea of how cats help us. When you have a cat in your life, you know how it feels when your cat looks at you with those big, beautiful eyes and makes that rumbling purr. Cats can make you feel better after a difficult day just by cuddling on your lap and making biscuits on your tummy.

I can say without any hesitation that my cat helped me and my son immensely during the COVID-19 lockdown. The ways cats benefit humans are even backed by science, so if you haven’t yet been converted into the world of cat people, read on!

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How Cats Help Humans: The Scientific Research

1. Enhanced General Well-Being

Many studies have been conducted over the years proving how beneficial cats are to humans. In a 2015 Australian study,1 it was determined that cat owners were more psychologically healthy than people without pets. Cat owners were found to have fewer sleep issues, less anxiety and depression, and were generally happier and more confident.

Yet another study showed that cats can improve our bad mood and reduce negative emotions,2 including not feeling as lonely. Also, single people with cats were less likely to be in a bad mood compared to people with a cat and a significant other.

Perhaps this comes as no surprise, but it has been found that people who watch online cat videos feel fewer negative emotions, such as frustration, stress, and sadness.3 They also experienced more positive emotions and felt happier and more content. However, some people felt a little guilty if they watched the videos as a form of procrastination!

cat resting with owner on sofa at home
Image Credit: U__Photo, Shutterstock

2. Improved Relationships

Cat owners tend to have more positive relationships with other people, particularly other cat people. In fact, those positive feelings can lead to a greater ability to express compassion toward others. It was even found in a 2017 Scottish study that children with strong and positive relationships with their friends also had a strong attachment to their cats.

This supports the point that cat owners gain a greater sense of well-being due to their relationship with their cats. If a person has a strong sense of self-worth, they will project that onto others.


3. Less Stress

Hearing your cat purr and watching them sleep is one of the most relaxing things you can experience. I find it quite comforting when I see my cat relaxed and happy. Her inherent trust in me gives me that all-important feeling of self-worth. I must be doing something right to have the honor of my cat’s love and trust.

This 2002 study examined married couples and whether their cats affected their stress levels. They were put through several stress tests while hooked up to a monitor that tracked their heart rate and blood pressure with their cat in the same room. They also tested couples without pets.

The cat owners fared better after testing their resting heart rate and blood pressure than the pet-less couples. Part of this is due to a cat’s purr, which is shown to decrease stress and possibly lower blood pressure through the sound and vibrations of their purring.

tabby cat sleeping on owner's lap
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

4. Health Benefits

Cats can provide various health benefits, such as lower blood pressure, reduced stress, and less anxiety. We all know how stress can impact our mental and physical well-being. There’s also an improvement in heart health, which means less risk of heart disease and stroke.

Cats can even aid in reducing the risk of allergies. That sounds unbelievable, but it’s been shown that if children are exposed to cats within their first year, their immune systems will help protect them from developing almost any allergy later in life.

Cats also help reduce loneliness by providing the best kind of companionship. Whether you’re single or not, you can benefit from the unconditional love only a pet can provide.

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Getting Through Lockdown With Cats

Rigid scientific research will never fully explain how much we love our cats and their positive impact on our lives. It’s challenging to measure emotions and living creatures. My personal experience with my cat and lockdown illustrates the importance of pets. My son is an adult with autism spectrum disorder, and he also has depression. He’d gotten his first job but was laid off after only 5 months because of the pandemic.

Honestly, this was probably one of the most challenging times in our lives, particularly for him. But there’s no doubt in my mind that Bella (our cat) is what got him through. Knowing that she was always there and how much she loved him was enough for my son to start feeling better.

To this day, when he becomes despondent because things aren’t going his way, I only need to bring Bella to him and talk about how much she loves him for my son to cheer up. I believe that she has actually saved his life.

There are countless stories from other cat owners with similar experiences. Pet cats have essentially become therapy cats for many of us, on their own terms, of course.

Woman owner hugging cat
Image Credit: Wanwajee Weeraphukde, Shutterstock

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Conclusion

If you’re already a converted cat lover, you probably aren’t surprised by most of the information here. Not every cat is sweet and cuddly. Cats are like people, with plenty of diversity! But whether a cat is sweet and a bit needy or independent and slightly grumpy, they love us, and looking after a feline is something we all need to do with love and a healthy dose of respect.

My cat is on the less cuddly side. She loves me and my son—there’s no doubt about that—but she loves us on her own terms, which means no lap time, no cuddling, and no being picked up and held. That’s okay! She’s her own cat with her own way of doing things.

I’ll always be grateful to have her in our lives. She’s helped us overcome every obstacle in the past 6 years since we’ve had her. I’m willing to bet that the same can be said for all of you!


Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

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