While today is National Love Your Pet Day, any true animal guardian will assure you that he or she doesn't need a specially designated day to shower affection on furry companions. Yet it is admittedly fun to make the time to especially celebrate animals that have become part of the family. While my feisty feline is currently sleeping, I'll be sure to take time away from work and other distractions to play with him for an extra long period later this afternoon.
My cat Alexei came into my life during a time when a chronic illness was especially debilitating. As a kitten, he was constantly by my bedside, whether amusing me with our play or comforting me with his cuddles. As my health strengthened and mobility increased, my boy has thoroughly enjoyed more independence, though he constantly keeps tabs. He seems to have this extra sense for knowing when something is wrong, and I swear his purrs have healing powers.
"Put a cat in a room with a bunch of broken bones - the bones will heal." – An old veterinarian adage
Numerous animal studies back my suspicions. Cat purrs fluctuate between 20 to 140 Hz, which is a frequency linked with numerous healing effects, including when muscles and bones best grow and repair. Scientists at the University of California, Davis found purring frequencies offset long periods of rest and sleep that would otherwise contribute to bone density loss in both animals and humans. The frequency of purrs has also been linked to pain relief, healing of tendons, and a reduction of dysponea, or difficulty breathing, in both cats and people. It turns out a nice cuddling session with a purring cat can be both healing to the animal and to the human.
A University of Minnesota study found that having a cat around a home correlates with nearly 50 percent decreased risk of heart attack or stroke. Studying adults, ages 30 to 75, for 10 years found cat owners had a 40 percent lower risk of suffering a fatal heart attack. The reason for this is that having animals nearby tends to relieve stress and anxiety, which often play a role in cardiovascular events.
While I couldn't find studies directly linked to the affect of cat's purrs on the central nervous system, I'm a firm believer that my feline is a master healer for neuromuscular disorders as well. And his boundless energy well into adulthood has definitely kept me in my toes. But more than that, I appreciate the fact that Alexei has been there for me through eight years of great highs and great lows. The fact that he often still looks at me with any modicum of respect and plenty of love reassures me that he celebrates and appreciates me as well.