The term “cat lady” often carries with it a negative connotation, but so called cat ladies may be smarter than we think. Of course there are obvious reasons pets enrich our lives, like making us more active, and giving unconditional love at the end of a long day. But are there ways cats, specifically, can improve a woman’s life?
Let’s start by addressing the physical benefits of being a cat lady. A cat must be fed, shopped for, cleaned up after, and taken to the vet. All of these things require a certain amount of cardiovascular health. When you consider the fact that cardiovascular diseases are responsible for 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year (goredforwomen.org), the case is made for maintaining heart health through physical activity. Women also have a higher lifetime risk of stroke than men. According to a study about pet ownership, owning a cat was significantly associated with a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular events, specifically stroke. As we age, our metabolism slows and we tend to become less active. Caring for a cat involves lifting cat food bags and litter boxes and regularly filling water and food bowls. A cat may be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to getting the heart rate up. When compared to dogs, cats tend to makes fewer messes and are less destructive than dogs, making them the perfect fit for a lady who enjoys routine and downtime.
Now, let’s tap into the emotional benefits of being a cat lady. Owning a cat can help keep stress at bay, improve mood, and give life meaning. The simple act of petting a cat releases a surge of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centers. Through several studies, pet researcher Allen R. McConnell, PhD. found that people with pets are generally happier, more trusting, and less lonely than people without pets. "We found that pet owners, on average, were better off than non-owners, especially when they have a higher-quality relationship with their pets," says Allen R. McConnell, PhD., who is a professor of psychology at Miami University. The study about pet ownership referenced earlier also points to the fact that the positive effects of cat ownership may also be due to the stress-relieving effects of animal companionship. According to McConnell, the emotional benefit of having a cat is that, “You feel like you have greater control of your life.”
So, go on. Embrace the persona of cat lady. You’ll show them by maintaining a healthy heart and being a generally happy person!