The Life Saving Benefits of Hugging a Cat for Hug Your Cat Day!
For those of us that love cats, we love them for their endearing and quirky personalities, the companionship they provide us, and for their unconditional love and devotion. All of that alone is worth the price of admission, but did you know cats are actually good for us? With today being Hug Your Cat Day, coupled with the fact June is Adopt a Shelter/Rescue Cat Month, I thought it would be the purr-fect time to share what scientists have actually proven so that we can help promote another pawsome reason why adopting a cat is such a good idea. Yes – hold on to your seats – scientists have declared that snuggling, hugging, and cuddling is good for your health and well-being!
We probably didn’t need an actual study to tell us that hugs, snuggling, and cuddling makes us feel better – most of us know that the simple act of a hug from someone we care about can give us a sense of comfort, peace, love, and security. But what about the feeling we get when we hug our cat (or any cat for that matter) or that feeling when our cat hugs us back or snuggles with us? Human hugs are wonderful, but there is just something extra special about hugging or snuggling with a beloved pet cat. That overwhelming wash of inner peace of mind and contentment you feel when your cat is snuggled by your side, or on your lap, purring away, making biscuits into the soft of your belly. I know for me, there is nothing that can center or calm me quicker than that simple and pure act from a cherished cat.
Cats seem to intuitively know the power and importance of snuggling and cuddling too – in my multi-cat household, my gang are absolutely drawn to one another when it comes to snuggling and at any given moment of the day at least two or more cats are snuggled together, tucked into cozy little balls of happy, purring fluff. Sometimes the whole gang will be on the bed together – especially when it is afternoon nap time – and at night when I finally sit on the couch to relax, the snuggling and cuddling becomes a collective human-feline bond fest.
Want the actual science? According to a study published in the journal of Psychological Science, here are the top ten reasons why hugging, snuggling, and cuddling is so good for us:
1. Snuggling releases Oxycontin, a powerful hormone that increases in our bodies when we hug a loved one. It acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and plays a huge role in pair bonding.
2. Cuddling boosts our immune system, so something as simple as a loving snuggle with a cat can help increase hormones that help fight infection. In other words – the power of positive thinking – you feel happy and good, so your body is too healthy to get sick!
3. Hugs can relieve pain – think about it – remember as a child when you would scrap your knee? The best medicine was a quick hug from Mom to make you feel better.
4. Cuddling helps deepen your relationship with the person or pet you are snuggling with by heightening feelings of love.
5. Hugging/touching helps with bonding – think of the relationship between a shy or feral cat with a human caretaker – it might take years for the first pet to happen, but when it does, the trust level increases significantly.
6. Snuggling releases social anxiety – unlike years ago, it is now commonplace to see pets in public places to help calm pet guardians with anxiety issues, and many animals, including cats, are certified therapy animals to help people in stressful situations such as traveling.
7. Cuddling reduces stress levels – we live in an incredibly stressful world today and one of the quickest ways to reduce stress levels is by the calming act of petting or snuggling with a cat.
8. Cuddling lowers your risk of heart disease and stroke – cats are especially calming and can lower our blood pressure just by being around them.
9. Hugs are an instant mood boost and they are completely free! Who doesn’t love someone giving a random hug just to let you know that they care about you?
10. Cuddles can repair our worn out and broken bodies – think about all the animals that are used in nursing homes, hospitals, rehab centers, and hospice to help patients ease in recovery situations or to ease the journey of end of life. If you need further proof of that, please check out the compelling story Dorian Wagner of the blog Your Daily Cute shared of her journey with Joan Price, a woman terminally ill in hospice who was reunited with her cat Isis during her final months of life.
So on behalf of Hug Your Cat Day and Adopt a Shelter/Rescue Cat Month, thank you science for helping to provide further reasons why adopting a shelter cat (or two, or three, or more) is such a good idea. When you think about it, it really doesn’t get much better than that – not only will your health and well-being improve by having a cat in your life, but you will also be saving a life. Millions of cats are in shelters at this very moment waiting for a furever home – why not adopt one today so that you too can enrich your life with hugs, snuggling, and cuddling. Never mind an apple a day to keep the doctor away, it should be hug a cat every day to keep the doctor away! And best of all – if you adopt a shelter cat, not only will you be saving their life, in the long run, with all the health benefits, you will be extending yours as well!