These Benefits of Having a Cat Will Convince You to Adopt a Kitty ASAP

Feeling anxious? Overwhelmed? Panicky? Hang out with your cat — they're scientifically proven to make you feel better. "Researchers have found that spending time with a cat can reduce an owner's heart rate and systolic and diastolic blood pressure," explains Kristyn Vitale, Ph.D., an expert on cat-human interaction and a professor at Unity College in Maine. In other words, "your cat can help you relax," she says.

The key to unleashing these therapeutic powers? Be proactive and engage with your kitty so that the two of you create a bond. "It's not just about having a cat in the house," says Monique Udell, Ph.D., an animal behaviorist and a professor at Oregon State University. "There's a lot of evidence showing that petting a cat can lead to stress reduction. Performing caretaking behaviors and training or playing with your cat can also help," she adds. (Doing acroyoga with your cat like Kate Beckinsale would also be a guaranteed mood boost.)

In return, you'll benefit emotionally from the process — and chances are, your feline will, too. "Many people underestimate the importance of social behavior for cats," says Vitale. "But our research indicates that cats seek interaction from humans," she notes. In fact, the relationship they form with us is similar to the one between infants and parents, says Udell, whose team has studied the subject.

Related: How Pets Can Improve Your Social Life

Here's more on the benefits of having a cat, according to science — so the next time a dog person acts all high and mighty, you can counter with these facts.

The Key Benefits of Having a Cat

1. They boost your mood.

In a 2012 survey, 87 percent of cat owners said their feline had a positive effect on their well-being, and 76 percent felt like they coped with life better. Studies have found that "interacting with your cat can improve negative feelings, like fear or anxiety," says Vitale. "Other research shows that cats can be a source of comfort," she notes.

You can even get your feline fix — and the benefits of having a cat — online. In a study, people reported feeling more positive and energized after just watching cat videos.

2. They give definition to your days.

"Having a creature that depends on you for their feeding and care can help create a routine and a sense of purpose," says Vitale. So focus on strengthening the bond. "Just like humans, cats have different preferences," she explains. "Some like being petted, while others prefer spending time next to you. Play with your cat using toys, pet her, brush her, or just talk to her, and see what she likes most," she recommends. You'll both score the feel-good effects. (Good news: You can even take them with you on vacation to these pet-friendly resorts.)

3. They provide a sense of connection.

Research shows that having a cat can help alleviate loneliness, says Vitale. That makes sense: A cat offers companionship, even if they're just lying in the room with you while you work. Their presence also can give you a feeling of security, according to research. "We have learned to value the relationships with our pets more now," says Udell. "During the pandemic, people have appreciated the little joys cats bring to their lives," she adds.