This past October 10, we celebrated World Mental Health Day, an occasion that aims to raise awareness and inform people about the subject of mental illness, and the realities and needs of patients everywhere. According to estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO), one in four people on the planet will suffer from a mental health condition throughout their lives. That’s close to 1.7 billion people.
It’s no surprise that along with this increasing rate of mental illness has come a surge in the number of companion animals. In fact, given the enormous benefits they can bring to both children and adults alike, more and more families are deciding to incorporate a pet into their homes. Pets are loyal, affectionate, and excellent life companions. Their way of treating us has a hugely positive impact on our lives—and on our mental well-being in particular. As such, pets are even associated with therapeutic methods.
Of course, our cats and any other furry companions we’ve adopted can’t give us a bath, make us dinner or take us to the doctor. However, there are many ways that our pets can have a real impact on the prevention and treatment of mental health conditions. For example, the company of our cats contributes to oxytocin production in the body, a hormone that has a calming effect on the brain by reducing stress and anxiety. Being with our cats also releases hormones like serotonin and dopamine that make us feel good, while lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Plus, the characteristic purr of a happy cat has a positive effect on our moods too, even helping people who aren’t well to pull through their situations.
Nonetheless, we shouldn’t forget that a cat is a living being with a range of needs and feelings. So, owning a cat comes with a responsibility to take care of their health and well-being. The “cat therapy” that our feline friends can give us isn’t simply a tool; cats are active agents that participate in treatment sessions, maintaining the ability to decide what they do and don’t want to do.
With that said, today and every day, we invite you to enjoy the pleasant company of one of the most sociable and beneficial animals for your health. After all, your cat has so much to offer you.