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Cats rate pretty damn high on the cuteness scale, but it turns out the benefits of kitty ownership go beyond the mere superficial—having these pets can also make you healthier.
One 2015 study discovered that the simple act of watching cat videos online gives us an energy bump, boosts our mood and reduces negative emotions. In real life this effect is even more powerful; snuggling with your cat can provide an uptick in oxytocin—the feel-good hormone that allows us to bond and de-stress.
Owning an animal is a simple way to manage the everyday burdens and strains of life, but cats in particular appear to have a profound influence on stress levels. Unlike dogs, which are equally cute but tend to be far more high-maintenance, you can leave cats to their own devices between cuddle sessions. One study discovered owning a cat cuts your chances of having a heart attack by a third.
The cat lady stereotype is real. Researchers say felines are loving, purring creatures who appear to have a particularly strong bond with women. One Austrian study found that coming home to a cat produced a similar emotional response to that of a romantic partner, while another revealed even coupled-up women widely report preferring to sleep with their cat than their other half.
Being raised with a cat in the house can give kids greater resistance to allergies—and not just pet-related ones, but the full spectrum. On the other hand, adults who didn’t have pets growing up are more likely to be allergic to the fur and saliva of cats than dogs.
A leading pet expert, psychologist Dr June McNicholas, surveyed UK women and found that 82% reported being more attracted to men who care about animals. Interestingly, those with a pet cat were viewed as being kinder, more sensitive humans and therefore more date-worthy.
More of a dog person? Our canine buddies have their own health benefits.