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Pet your cat to reduce stress

Pet Your Cat to Reduce Stress!

| Cornell Feline Health Center - Member Blog  

With the current COVID-19 situation, we are all going through a difficult time; and such times can be stressful. It has been shown that stress can have negative effects on our physical and mental well-being, so finding ways of minimizing stress is in everyone's best interest.

We have a simple solution to this problem for all cat (and, we admit it, dog) owners...try petting your cat.  Most of us have experienced the calming effect of interacting with our feline friends, and numerous studies suggest that interaction with cats and dogs can have beneficial physiologic and psychological effects on us.

Talk about a safe and effective side effects (except, perhaps for talking to your cat in ridiculous voices or the risk of getting cat hair on your pants) and an appreciable benefit to your mood. We say win-win for both you and your cat. 

In fact, a recent study that used university students (who are notoriously stressed) as subjects found that petting cats and dogs for 10 minutes decreased the amount of cortisol (a stress hormone) in their saliva. These findings are consistent with the notion that interacting with cats and dogs decreases stress.

We know that these are trying times, but with people, cats, and dogs working together, we will all be OK.

We recommend that you refrain from allowing your cat to lick your face or mouth until more is known about the possibility of humans becoming infected by COVID-19 from cats (there is currently no evidence that they can be), but feel free to pet away. Its a good idea to wash your hands afterward, out of an abundance of caution....frequent washing of hands is good for everyone, anyway!

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