Owning a cat is amazing, but we're preaching to the choir here. We don't need to tell you how wonderful it is to share our homes (and gardens) with these furry loving creatures. We have something even better to tell you: having a cat might be changing you in ways you never even realized.
The bond between humans and their small companions has received its fair share of research and studies over the years, including a few with some… interesting results. Below we share some our favorite unexpected effects of owning a cat, according to science:
1. Cats might make you wild -- in the bedroom
We'll start with the one we thought was the most ridiculous. I mean, just look at the titles the media chose to go with when reporting this research paper: "Cat Poo Parasite May Influence Your Sexual Desires." "Into Bondage? It Could be Because of Your Cat, Study Says." We thought this was a case of clickbait titles blowing things out of proportion, but after delving into the original paper we've got to admit, those headlines are… pretty much spot-on?
It turns out that a parasite contained in your cat's number two might have an effect on the way your brain works. More specifically, it can make cat owners (especially men) crave fear-based sexual interactions such as sadomasochism. The parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, calms and even attracts rodents to cats.
"Toxoplasma is definitely not responsible for sadomasochism," says Jaroslav Flegr, the author of the study. "It just succeeds in using the fact that sex-related stimuli and fear-related stimuli affect very similar circuits in the brain."
So next time you're trying to pick someone up, just wink and say "I'm a cat person." We're sure it'll work.
2. Cat purring might help you heal
Cats purr when they're content -- but they also purr when they're stressed out or hurt. Why is this? According to several studies, a cat purrs at a frequency of between 25 and 150 Hertz, which has been shown to promote healing and improve bone density. This might be the origin of an old adage: "If you put a cat and a bunch of broken bones in the same room, the bones will heal." All the more reason to snuggle up to your kitty!
3. Cats can reduce your risk of heart attack
If you have a cat, it may even help your ticker keep pace. Several studies have shown that having a cat (but not a dog or a different pet) can reduce your risk of death due to heart attack, stroke, and other heart diseases. Although this study doesn't go into detail regarding why this is, it does suggest that getting a cat might be a "novel strategy" for reducing the risk of heart disease in high-risk people. We'll be waiting for the day our doctor prescribes getting a cat.
4. Cats are just as good at making you feel better as your spouse
When you need a mood-booster do you cuddle up with your spouse or your cat? According to this study, it doesn't matter -- both are equally effective at alleviating negative moods. The study showed that cats don't make you happier when you're already happy (the way humans can), but they're apparently just as good at chasing away the blues as a human partner.
5. Cats awaken the artist within you
Okay, in this case we're not sure which is the cause and which is the effect, but stick with us. One study assessed the personalities of over 4000 people through a questionnaire which also asked whether they were cat or dog people. Results showed that cat people are more curious, open, and creative than dog people -- but also less outgoing and more neurotic. It's unclear if neurotic creative people simply prefer cats, or if getting a cat does that to you… but we'll leave that up to you to decide.
We're sure you've experienced some of your own effects of cat ownership. How has owning a cat changed you?