Cats May Be The Best Medicine
Do You love cats?
I admit it; I am a stereotype, an older single woman who loves cats. However, I only have two. I don't have 20 mewing cats roaming around the house. I am not a crazy old cat lady. Yet!
The concept of cats protecting and nurturing their humans isn't new. There are many anecdotal stories of cats pressing up against a specific area of their owner, only to have their owner later be diagnosed with cancer in that region.
There are also stories of cats awakening their owners when a house catches on fire.
Many people have seen the story of Oscar the cat. He lived in a nursing home and had an uncanny ability to sense when someone was about to die. He would then visit their room to offer comfort in their final moments.
His story was featured on CBS.
The Cat and the Fox
I live in northern Canada. I'm used to seeing foxes and coyotes in the neighborhood. I carry bear spray when I run on the trails. Nothing, however prepared me for a strange encounter between my cat and a fox.
I was coming home from a walk early one evening and decided to take a shortcut on a lane between two condo developments. The stroll takes me to the end of the lane, past two apartments and across a busy street to my home.
As I was walking, a truck pulled up beside me. A woman rolled down the window and asked me if I was OK.
"Why?' I asked.
"We've been behind you for a while. There's a large fox following you.", she answered. Then she pointed out the fox, hiding behind a bush at the entrance to the lane.
I got home safely, and put the fox out of my mind. About a half hour later I opened the back door to let the cats in. They are pretty much indoor cats, but when it's hot outside they like to lay out in the back lawn.
Snoop bolted inside the house. Snoop doesn't "bolt". He is a 16 year old overweight neutered male. His idea of exercise is wadding between his cat bed and his cat food bowl.
I looked outside, and there was the fox in my back yard. I could not see Appetizer! I'm very attached to Appetizer. I've had her since she was barely weaned. She sleeps on my feet. There is no way this fox is getting my cat.
There is also no way I am going to hurt this fox. I just want it out of my yard so I can rescue the cat. I pick up a big push broom that I use to clean off the concrete pad in the back yard. I inch towards the fox, my heart pounding.
Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash of orange, black and white. Appetizer, who had been under a vehicle, flew out from her hiding place and charged the fox, who ran away.
It was over in seconds. It took much longer for my brain to process what happened.
Appetizer, the heroine
Snoop in his "Natural Environment"
Cats Attacking Wild Animals
When I started writing this article I discovered there was not a lot of research into this phenomenon.
It certainly happens, but it's unclear if the cat is protecting it's owner or simply protecting it's territory.
I may be a combination of both theories. Cats and dogs raised in the same household cohabitate peacefully, but throw an unknown cat or dog into the mix, and it's all out war.
Tale a look at what happens when a strange bear enters the picture.
Cats Versus Bears
Is Your Cat a Superhero?
A cat can help your overall well-being
There have been many studies that link cat ownership with lower stress and the decreased risk of heart disease, including a report from the University of Minnesota.
Researchers gathered data over a 20 year period. They concluded that owing a cat significantly reduced the incidence of stress and heart disease. Wat was not clear, is if people who have cats are already predisposed to a less stress-free lifestyle.
There are dozens of studies looking at the health benefits of cats. They suggest cat owners may enjoy.
.A better sense of happiness and well being
.Better cognitive ability
.Decreased risk of disease, including cancer
.Lower blood pressure
.Faster healing of broken bones and joint pain.
.Fewer allergies and asthma in children
.Lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels
Companionship is often the key benefit of owning a cat. People, particularly those who live alone, may feel a need to feed their nurturing instincts.
Simply having that responsibility can give life a sense of purpose.
So, even if your well-loved cat wont save you from a burning building, your relationship is a win-win situation.
Go ahead. Hug that cat. Those purrs are a big part of the healing and bonding experience.