by Emily Parker
When it comes to exercise, many of us think too much of our outside bodies’ appearance. While being physically fit is important, you should also worry about the organ that controls your body, the brain. Being mentally fit is essential as you age, as no one wants to be elderly and as sharp as a marble.
There are many ways to exercise your brain. From studying to meditating, you can make sure your brain is fit for the future. But there is another way to get your brain fit, and it has four legs, pointy ears, and whiskers as long as angel hair. Your cat.
Yes, your cat can be mentally stimulating. Besides having some physical benefits as well, including reducing the risk of heart attack, Mittens can be just the workout your brain is looking for. Here’s why.
They Can Reduce Anxiety
For those who suffer from anxiety, you should know that anxiety attacks are not good for your overall mental health. While there are many ways to treat anxiety, and you, with the permission of a doctor, should use as many as you can, a cat is a good way to help.
Petting a cat can help to calm your nerves. As you pet the kitty, hearing it purr will make you feel content, lowering your anxiety. There is something calming about petting a cat that many sedatives just can’t beat, and you should definitely try petting some cats if you haven’t done so already. It won’t be a magical cure-all, but it can help in addition to other treatments.
Cats Can Lower Depression
Depression is in the same ballpark as anxiety. While everyone is depressed on occasion, chronic depression can be damaging to your mental health. Like anxiety, you need to have ways to combat depression, and cats can be one of those tools in your shed to help you. Petting a cat can make you feel good, and hearing its purrs can perk your spirits. Head to your shelter and pet a few cats, and you can see what we mean.
Cats Can Lower Stress
Worried about a big speech tomorrow? Stressed by bills? While some stress is an important part of being a human, too much can be damaging to your overall mental well-being. Cats can help to lower your stress, in ways similar to the other two above.
Cats Lower Your Risk of Stroke
Perhaps one of the biggest threats to your mental health is the risk of stroke. If you have a stroke, it could be a major blow to your mental capacities. You should always get checked out when you’re at the age that is susceptible to a stroke, and you need to look at your family history. If you’re at risk, talk to your doctor.
And have a cat in handy, too.
Owning a cat can possibly reduce your risk of stroke by a third. The main reason for this is because cats can lower stress, anxiety, and blood pressure, which are all causes for a stroke.
Now, I’ve said this numerous times, but this isn’t a magic way to prevent a stroke. You should always talk to your doctor and make sure your risk of stroke is as low as it can possibly be.
Cats Keep You Mentally Active
Sure, cats are much more low-maintenance than dogs, but they aren’t entirely self-sustaining. You’ll still need to find the best cat food to fill their feeder with, fill up their water bowls, scoop out their litter, play with them, and make sure they’re at a healthy weight.
Cats can train your mind to keep a schedule, which is essential no matter your age. When you’re young, you need a bit of organization in your life if you want to survive the adult world. For those in their golden years, having a schedule can keep your mind fit.
Cats Can Keep You Productive
Another way to train your mind is to be productive. Getting tasks done throughout the day is essential if you want to stay mentally fit. There are many ways to be productive. From learning time management skills to shutting off Facebook, there are ways to be productive.
But did you know that cats can make you productive? Having a feline around can increase your productivity quite a bit.
How can that be? How can a creature that jumps on your lap as you’re trying to work, meows for food, and runs around the house be anything but distracting?
It’s because cats can put you in a good mood. A happy, purring cat next to you can calm your anxiety and stress, making your more productive. This, in turns, gives your brain quite the workout, making you mentally fit. It all works out in the end.
Here’s a fun example of one company taking this to heart!
Cats Can Help You Sleep Better
Sleep is important for a healthy mind. If you don’t get enough sleep, your mental health can suffer. But having a cat sleeping on a bed next to you can be a great sleep aid. Besides the feeling of contentment you get, cats can help reduce the stress that keeps you up at night.
Are Cats Bad for Mental Health?
Before I end this, I do want to address a study that has been making the rounds in the past few months. The study claims that owning a cat can lead to mental health issues down the road due to Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that can be found in cat feces.
While there is truth to this, you shouldn’t worry too much if your cat is indoors. Cats typically get the parasite if they hunt rodents and are outdoor pets.
If your cat is an outdoors feline, you can prevent the risk by cleaning out the litterbox regularly, washing your hands after you handle cat feces, and having your cat checked out regularly.
If you haven’t considered owning a cat already, there are many reasons to do so. For the sake of your health, try a cat today!
Emily Parker lives with her boyfriend and 2 cats, but has never gone more than a month without having a pet. From dogs to hamsters to cats, she loves the mental boost they give her. When not snuggling her two cats, Gus and Louis, she writes about all things cat over at www.catological.com.