How and Why Interacting With Our Pets Makes Us Happier and Healthier

While those of us who own pets have always known they make us feel much happier and healthier, the good news is that science is finally backing up our claims. Whether they are helping us feel less depressed, sleep better, or actually working with us to ensure we have lower blood pressure and cholesterol, the fact is our pets are working overtime to ensure their owners stay in tiptop shape.

Whether you want to know just how much your pet is doing for you, or you’re considering getting a cat for the first time, here are some of the most fascinating and beneficial ways owning a pet can make your life better.

Get a Good Night's Sleep

If you ever have trouble sleeping, try letting your pet curl up with you in bed. After all, for some of us, there's nothing more soothing than having a dog or cat jump into bed with you. Suddenly, no matter the type of day you had, the world just seems like a much better place. While not for everyone, a study conducted by the world-renowned Mayo Clinic concluded that pet parents who let their cats share their bed were more than twice as likely to get a good night's sleep rather than be disturbed by kitty's presence.

Rid Yourself of Stress and Anxiety

In today's world, it's almost impossible to not feel stressed out - things just move so fast and expectations are so high.

However, if you want to ease your mind and lower your heart rate and blood pressure, spend some quality time with your pet. Petting a cat for only a few minutes has been shown to produce hormones that help to lower stress levels.

In fact, a study by Indiana University’s Media School also showed that simply watching a cat video can reduce stress, so it's clear our furry friends are doing everything possible to make our lives easy and carefree.

A Healthy and Happy Heart

Along with having lower blood pressure and a heart rate that would make any athlete green with envy, interacting with our pets can also greatly reduce your chances of ever having a heart attack or stroke.

According to the latest research, cat owners are over 30 percent less likely to die from heart attacks than are people who have never experienced the pleasure of owning a feline friend. Much of this has been attributed to data indicating these people have not only far lower cholesterol levels, but also low levels of triglycerides.

And as an added benefit, some research suggests that owning a cat can actually be more heart-healthy for you than taking medication. So rather than spending your time at the pharmacy, you can simply stay home and pet your kitty.

Don't miss out on the infographic!

The Best Companions

While being with your human friends can be fun, pet owners have known for years that their four-legged friends often make the best companions. If you've ever felt down and out after a long day, or have some issue that's weighing on your mind, having your pet meet you at the door or curl up in your lap can suddenly make all those troubles seemingly disappear.

Cats are often used in pet-therapy programs in senior living facilities, where they interact with residents and help to ease their loneliness. They’ve also been shown to be just as effective as a human significant other in helping you get over a bad mood.

A Free Source of Entertainment

If you're looking for some cheap but great entertainment, spend a few minutes watching your cat play. Whether Fluffy is chasing a ball around the room, trying to figure out how to catch a bird that's outside a window, or chasing her tail after sniffing a bit of catnip, there's no doubt you'll soon be laughing so hard you won't be able to stop. Rather than spend lots of time and plenty of money going to a movie that you may or may not enjoy, just stay home and let your furry friend put on a great show for you.

Pets Encourage You to Exercise

By chasing a ball around the room with your cat, or tempting her with a feather at the end of a toy wand, you'll soon find yourself being more active throughout the day. Even if you just spend as little as 15 minutes daily playing with your pet, you'll discover it has numerous physical as well as mental benefits. The health benefits of cats, including this added exercise, are apparently saving health services billions of dollars per year due to cat owners being healthier and requiring fewer hospital trips.

The Path to New Friendships

Not only can your pets help you feel better physically and mentally, but they can also help you find many new friendships. Whether you're at the vet's office getting a kitty checkup or in the grocery store buying food for your furry friend, chances are you're bound to strike up a conversation with a fellow pet lover. And once you start talking to someone with whom you have something in common, you just might find it's the start of a beautiful and lifelong friendship.

While it may seem tough in today's world to slow down enough to find health and happiness, there's no doubt for pet owners that the four-legged members of their families do much to enrich their lives. From helping us literally live longer by having healthy hearts to establishing new friendships, our pets show us every day that they are indeed the keys to our enduring happiness.

Want to see all of this in a nutshell? Click here for the infographic.