When her Elgin neighbors feel stressed, some of them will turn to the refrigerator for relief; they’ll look for some comfort food to ease the strain. But, Carol has found a healthier alternative. When Carol feels stressed, she walks right past the refrigerator and calls for Bella, her 2-year-old Siamese cat.
When Bella comes, and she always comes when Carol calls, Carol scoops her up, continues to the sofa and curls up with her cat to cuddle. Cuddling with Bella is Carol’s healthier option for dealing with stress – healthier than eating all those calories.
Sometimes, Carol will pull a quilt around her shoulders as they cuddle. She may watch television while cuddling with her cat. She made read a book with her cat on her lap. Or, Carol may just sit and quietly catch her breath while Bella nuzzles against Carol’s cheek, the way Elgin cats, and cats all over, are prone to do.
Some may think the idea of a cat as an alternative to comfort foods is absurd. But, is it really? Consider the following:
- There is scientific evidence that cats lower a person’s stress levels. A 2008 study in MedicalNewsToday found that cat owners are 30 percent less likely to die of heart attacks or strokes than those who don’t own cats.
- Cats provide non-judgmental companionship.
- People with cats tend to sleep better, according a 2015 study by the MAYO Clinic.
- Cat owners tend to have fewer allergies. That seems counter logical, as we’re all familiar with the problem of people who are allergic to cats (actually to the dandruff in a cat’s hair). But, a 2002 study by the National Institute of Health found that, when children spend time with cats, they may be less likely to develop allergies.
These potential benefits of owning a cat, in regards to reducing and responding to stress in your life, is significant. On the other side of the coin, doctors’ offices are full of people with high cholesterol levels, weight problems and heart conditions that were exacerbated by their tendency to turn to comfort food in times of stress.
Carol doesn’t have that problem. She has Bella, a cat that hasn’t added a single ounce to her waistline. Too bad more of her Elgin neighbors don’t have cats for stress relief.