Feature Writer Terri Winaught – Feel the Love with Felines

In part one of this series, I offered the premise that having service animals and pets results in many health benefits. I elaborated by explaining that positive aspects of dog ownership in particular can include their ability to detect cancer, blood sugar drops in diabetics, and seizure onset in persons with epilepsy.

Just as numerous health and companionship benefits are associated with dogs, this is also the case with cats. By Googling “Benefits of Cat Ownership,” for example, you will learn that there are nursing homes in Florida and Georgia where cats provide therapeutic companionship to residents who are bedridden or terminally ill. It seems that the warmth of those furry little bodies provides levels of comfort that can be measured by vital signs which one might expect after a person has been using meditation to relax. Ziegler Contributor Valerie Moreno has also given us beautiful examples in articles she has written about the positives she derives from owning her cat, which also happens to be blind.

Additional sources of similar information come from about.com, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and webmd.com. On those websites, you will find articles about cats reducing loneliness among senior adults and single women who live alone. Cats have also been credited with enhancing self-esteem in children and reducing at least some of the sensitivity that can exist due to allergens. Though elderly persons who are active can rival anyone who has ever romped with an active kitten or cat, those for whom too much physical exertion might be problematic can especially benefit from cats being lower maintenance than dogs. The sense of being needed again can be a big bonus to persons whose spouses have passed away, and may be living alone for the first time in years.

Since the above referenced websites seem to share the philosophy that humans benefit from pet interactions from both dogs and cats, and the first two articles in this series have focused on dogs, I will conclude next week with survey responses from cat owners, one of whom significantly benefits from the companionship since her husband’s death. The other cat owner whose experiences I will be sharing derives powerful emotional benefits that relate to her mental health diagnosis. Due to the personal and sensitive nature of one’s mental health, I will be giving this last person a pseudonym or just use her initials.

Please feel free to share in Readers Forum the benefits you derive from pet or service animal ownership, be they physical, emotional or some of each.


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