We all know that cats and kids make for a great combination; however, did you know that our furry little friends also pair well with mature adults? Last week, in celebration of "Adopt a Senior Cat Month,” we talked about the many reasons why you may want to adopt a mature cat. This week, we've decided to explore a similar theme: why cats are good for seniors.
They Are Healing
Although cats are often depicted as aloof, snide, mean-spirited little creatures, we all know that these weird stereotypes are flat-out false. The truth is that our fuzzy little buddies actually have the capacity to heal. Let's start with the obvious: cats are funny... whether they're tearing through the house “crazy cat” style, or simply making goofy faces, it's impossible not to laugh when in their presence. So why is this important? Because laughter is medicine. Seriously! A good hearty chuckle has a whole slew of benefits, from boosting your immunity and relaxing your muscles, to reducing anxiety and temporarily alleviating depression.
In a similar vein, living with a cat – and, really, with any pet – has been repeatedly shown to reduce stress levels, which is especially relevant for seniors. Why? The illnesses that tend to afflict older people at a higher rate than others are also illnesses that are either the result of or are exacerbated by the presence of stress. The simple act of spending time with a kitty, in and of itself, can have a relaxing effect; however, another contributing factor is a cat's purr, which may help to reduce blood pressure.
But what else can a cat's purr do for a senior's health? Well, their purrs range in frequency from 25 to 150 Hertz – a range that is perfect for promoting the healing of broken bones, as well as increasing bone density. Furthermore, some of the mid-range purrs are ideal for things like healing wounds, reducing pain, and bringing down edema.
They Help Fight Loneliness
The sad truth is that senior citizens often live in isolation – due to a variety of factors, like immobility, loss of a spouse, or family living far away. Although some elderly people are fine, and even happy, with living on their own, others will suffer from loneliness. No matter a person's age, long bouts of loneliness can have an adverse effect on both the body and the mind – though, these effects are especially worrisome in an already vulnerable part of the population. All of that said, living with a pet can help combat some of that loneliness, and cats are especially good for this purpose.
But why are cats so useful when it comes to fighting off despondency in older adults? To start, when loneliness strikes, the simple presence of another body in the house can make all of the difference. Furthermore, our furry little friends make for superb listeners. Although they may not fully grasp what we're saying, the fact that they are inclined to sit quietly with you, make eye contact, and simply be present can make a person feel that they are being both heard and understood.
Next, felines – and especially more mature felines – are relatively undemanding. You may scoff at that statement, but consider other pets, like, say dogs. Dogs need frequent walks, lots of physical activity, and an abundance of attention. On the other hand, cats generally make for quiet companions. Even when playtime is asked for, they can be interacted with from a sitting position... which can be useful if mobility is an issue. On the opposite side of the same coin, a feline can encourage a person to get up and moving during a play session – and as we all know, movement is beneficial for both our physical and mental health.
Finally, cats provide affection and love in a way that is hard to find among other living creatures. After all, our kitties are discriminating creatures – you have to earn their adoration. Once you have it, though, the bond can be hard to break.
They Give Purpose and Meaning
Although this is not always true, many seniors in their retirement years find themselves as loose ends, which is understandable. After all, if you have spent many years dedicating yourself to your job or career, suddenly finding yourself without a vocation can leave you sort of lost. Although our feline cohorts are relatively easy to care for – them being independent little critters – they still require a good deal of your attention, time, and resources. And, unlike a job, this style of “work” is needed 'round the clock.
Similarly, mature adults may feel a certain loss of purpose once their children move away from home. Though this stage may happen well before they are officially considered “senior,” the lack of having someone to look after can feel like a loss, and that feeling can linger for quite some time. With a cat, though, you're never without someone to care for.
They Are Simply Fun
All of the reasons above are pretty serious, but this one is all about joy! When it comes right down to it, cats are good for seniors simply because they're... well... fun. And who doesn't need more fun in their lives?
What Are the Best Cats for Seniors?
Ultimately, all cats are good for seniors. But there are a few things to think of before you find yourself a new kitty to adopt. For example, consider each party's respective age, activity level, and mobility. Is the act of raising and caring for a kitten a suitably stimulating pursuit, or is a quiet, staid companion a better fit?
If you're looking for a breed that is especially good for seniors, then here a few marvelous options:
Scottish Folds are good cats for seniors who are a little more on the active side. Though they are fairly even tempered, they aren't exactly simple lap cats. What makes them especially great for older folks, though, is that they bond quite easily with their humans, are generally fairly quiet, and don't require a good deal of grooming.
Snowshoe cats are talkers, making them wonderful for older people dealing with the effects of loneliness. It might sound strange, but having a kitty “respond” to your attempts at conversation can actually make quite the difference, and these felines are especially good at that. Additionally, these cats are loving and loyal, making them ideal companions.
Persians are notoriously adorable in appearance, and often have a personality to match – being that their temperaments veer toward the cuddly. Not only are they lovely to be around, they are also wonderful for mature folks who like a project, given that their long, thick coats require regular grooming.
LaPerms are known for their unique, beautiful coats. But their looks aren't everything! No, these delightful felines are deeply gentle, soft voiced, and... best of all, highly adaptable. These cats are great companions for older adults as they understand the need for and appreciate a soft touch, are not shy about affection, and fit quite nicely into a smaller home.
Mixed breed cats are pretty much perfect – not only for seniors, but for people of all ages. These cats are diverse, individual, and are thought to have fewer health issues than their purebred counterparts. Furthermore, it's easy to find a mixed breed that can fit into a senior's home or lifestyle, as there are just so many varieties!
Cats are good for seniors... that's simply a fact. But why? Because our feline friends understand us and our needs, and have the unique ability to bring a satisfying blend of joy, comfort, and friendship into our lives. And how can that do anything but benefit us well into our golden years?
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