Do cats have healing powers? Research says yes

doctor cat 200x300 Do cats have healing powers? Research says yes

The doctor is IN

Series: This is part 2 of a series called Cat time is good for you.

Believe it or not, our sweet-bundles-of-fur are probably saving us a bundle in medical bills.

Wait til you hear all this…

While cats in particular have healing powers, research on pet companionship in general is also impressive.

According to research discussed in this news report, people with pets save the Australian health service about $880 million per year and save Germany about $6.6 billion per year. The research found that people with pets:

  • need fewer visits to their doctor each year
  • have fewer sleeping difficulties
  • are less likely to need heart condition medicine

I was really excited about some research I found on cats in particular…

Cats may reduce heart attack risk by 40%

While a study showed that both cats and dogs  reduced stress-related blood pressure more than ace inhibitor medication, a study at the University of Minnesota found that cats in particular may reduce your chances of a heart attack by 40%.

The study, which looked at 4,435 Americans aged 30 to 75, showed that those who did not have a cat had a 40% higher risk of having a heart attack and a 30% greater risk of dying from other heart diseases than those who have or have had a cat.

I was diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia many years ago. That’s a crazy erratic, racing heartbeat that happens periodically in varying degrees of intensity and threat.

I did not have a cat at the time. A bit later I lived with cats again and a bit later I stopped having arrhythmia. Didn’t think much of it.

Fast forward many years to when my only cat, Bastet, was dying. I started having bouts of terrible heart arrhythmia symptoms. After she died it got worse–and by worse I mean nearly constant.

It stopped the day we brought home two new purring youngsters named Phil and Joel. The arrhythmia disappeared that day and hasn’t returned since. Were there other factors that may have affected my heart arrhythmia in these cases? Probably. But the timing of the healing was uncanny.

What’s at the root of a cat’s healing power?

There’s certainly some mystery as to exactly how cats and dogs manage to be good for our health. So far my investigation has uncovered these research nuggets about the healing power of kitty cats:

  • Stress symptoms are lowest in people with cats

In a study by Dr. June McNicholas, stress symptoms were lowest in cat owners, second lowest in dog owners, and highest in people without pets.

  • Purring heals—a lot of things!

The Fauna Communications Research Institute found that every cat in their study created purr vibrations within a range known be medically therapeutic (25-150 Hz). This frequency is therapeutic for:

  • bone growth and healing
  • pain relief
  • swelling reduction
  • wound healing
  • muscle growth and repair
  • tendon repair
  • joint mobility
  • dyspnea (shortness of breath) relief

Wow!

Other good news about having an animal friend at home

  • Having a pet reduces your risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer by about 33%! The longer you have pets, the less likely you are to develop lymphoma.
  • People with pets live longer according to the Merck Veterinary Manual
  • Pets are good for your mental health: One example is another study by Dr. June McNicholas of the University of Warwick. Her research showed that seniors had less depression and psychological distress if they had a pet.

Well, this has been humbling! Excuse me while I go see what little Phil and Joel are up to.

Do you suspect a cat helped you heal?

I would love to hear your thoughts in the Comments below.

Onward to Part 3, where I’ll look at an easy healing meditation technique that you can do with your cat. I tested it with a biofeedback device.

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25 Responses to Do cats have healing powers? Research says yes

  1. Erika June 19, 2014 at 12:43 am #

    I rescued my cat from the SPCA I went there to show my nieces, 9yr old twins, the importance of animal responsibility. They wanted kittens and I explained it was better to rescue. I already had a dog and had no intentions of adopting. As we visiting I saw two beautiful cats that just spoke to me. One in particular is a black Burmese male at the time he was a year old and had to be isolated. That didn’t matter to me at all I feel in love with his demeanor they allowed my daughter and I to have time with him he was nervous scared and almost aggressive, but that didn’t bother me. When our time was up the lady assumed I wouldn’t take him and began to tell me she knew he would never be placed because he was “to ferrel” then explained he had been sent there from another facility because they couldn’t handle him. She also informed me he had been badly abused by kids and would never trust humans again so I told her I would take him. I need him Salem and after a week this cat changed from big bad cat to loving kitty.
    Now for the healing part! I had a thyroid condition completely incurable for 20 yrs my doses only increased, but about a month after my kitty started sleeping with me he started giving me acupuncture on my arm I had be suffering from tennis elbow which was very painful due to neuropathy. I also have diabetes which caused the neuropathy. Any I felt instant relief. After, that my cat began doing acupuncture on my neck he almost seemed possessed and was frightened because of the veins in the jugular area but decided to trust him. Salem would do this every night for a month straight I found myself feeling quite energetic despite being out of my medicine but I scheduled an appointment with my doctor to refill my prescription. She insisted on blood work which came back 100% normal I asked how long would it take to have my meds out of my system and was told 2 days I had gone a little over a month and some how my cat reactivated my thyroid gland. Sorry this story is so long but I felt compelled to share, I rescued my cat be he is saving my life one condition at a time.

    • Liz-cat June 19, 2014 at 11:06 am #

      What a wonderful cat healing-power story, Erika, thank you for sharing this!

  2. Jan December 22, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    My fiance had a black cat called Le Stat (male). First he had been living in our apartment for more than 10 years. After that he lived 3 years in a workshop with her partner. He was gay, and he got contagiated from HIV. in 2009 he came to the last part to the AIDS – he was almost dying in the hospital, he lost a lot of weight. So did the cat, and the cat lost of weight. We went to the vet and he diagnosed our cat with a depression. After our friend came back from hospital, the friend and the cat started to recover and gain weight simoultaneously. We think that the cat helped to overcome HIV of our friend. our cat died last Christmas and we always cherish him in our hearts.

  3. Pat December 16, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

    Can someone teach my cats on where to massage me? I’d love to get a good shoulder rub or lower-back massage every once in awhile — they get a lot of chin scritching from me — how about some reciprocity?

  4. Aaron July 15, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

    I felt like sharing my cat story after doing a Google search on cats with healing powers.
    I love alone most of the day. I’m a 38 year old male and proud cat owner. I found Pipin at the local no-kill shelter. When he lazily looked up at me from his perch there was something in his eyes that told me there was some kind of connection. I don’t know what it was but it was there. After a brief finger sniffing, head petting, and chin/cheek scratching session I was left alone in a room with five other cats and Pipin. Pipin warmed up to me the fastest, always rubbing up on my legs and he even jumped on my lap, to the amazement of the other folks looking in the room’s big glass door. Within five minutes we were bonded and I had him home that very day. Pipin is a three year old abandoned shelter cat.

    He became very attentive, which I adored. He sleeps with me and constantly lays on my lap, making me feel like the villain from the James Bond films. I love this new found connection I have with the animal. When he lays on my lap he purrs like crazy and I feel good and totally mellow right along with him. He even reaches his paws out to my arm and lays them there, almost as if he wants to keep in contact with me.

    Now for the healing part that’s beyond psychological. He constantly likes to massage my stomach, which can hurt and become annoying after a while. Sometimes I’d be a bit constipated (I know TMI) and my stomach would be cramping up while he does it. When I finally get him to stop my stomach ache is almost completely gone, and twenty minutes later I have a movement like I’ve never had before. An hour after that I have another one, and I feel completely relaxed for the rest of the day. For the past few years my movements have been harsh and irregular and the last month or so It’s been smooth, relaxing, and effortless.

    I’ve only had Pipin since November 2012 so there can’t be a coincidence there.

    I’m also a computer gaming nerd. So Pipin has found that he can get my attention by jumping up on the back of my chair and rubbing his face on me, which I love. Not only that, but he does his acupuncture thing on my bad shoulder that I dislocated from behind about ten years ago, and my muscles feel relaxed instead of tense and stressed out. I’m even doing forty pushups a day now. It’s like he gives me a shoulder massage and completely relaxes me, until the claws become like little daggers and I need to make him stop lol.

    Since I got Pipin, he has turned me into a new person mentally. He’s givin’ me an even greater respect for life and animal companionship than I’ve ever had before. I urge anybody who is on the fence about getting a cat to stop thinking about it and take the plunge. They are easy to maintain, and when treated right, will love you forever.

    Once again, sorry for the TMI bit in the beginning, but it was part of this story and had to be told.

  5. Emily July 1, 2013 at 8:40 am #

    Cats are very special. When I lost my oldest and dearest cat to cancer right after Christmas I couldn’t sleep in my bed for days (she always slept with me) so I slept on the couch. my youngest and rowdiest boy kitty came every night and laid on my chest, quietly purring all night, comforting me and helping me sleep. He’s how I got through those terrible weeks.

    Then today I took a nap, having not slept well the past few nights with bad things going on, and my now-oldest girl kitty laid on my chest and put her cheek against my cheek (which she’s never done before). We slept like that for almost two hours. I haven’t slept that well in a long time!

  6. Caro June 1, 2013 at 8:34 am #

    One day I came home with a massive headache. I took a pain-killer and went to bed. A few hours later, the headache woke me up. It ached so badly, I cried. I stood up to take a glass of water. When I went back to bed, my cat was sitting close to my pillow. I lay down and she started patting my head, on the place I felt the pain, while she purred.
    I also suffer terrible cramps sometimes. I also lay down and fall asleep. I usually wake up and find my cat sleeping on my belly, precisely in the place where I feel the pain. Maybe the pain doesn’t fade away, but my pet does help in the healing process.

  7. Murielle Pitre May 13, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

    Hi. i am a 47 y/o physically disabled woman (spina befida). I use a motorized wheelchair. I have several medical problems – some associated to my disability, and some not – among these anxiety, high blood pressure, acid reflux and extreme back pain due to severe scoliosis. In spite of the problems, i work full time to support myself and i love working. However, when you combine everything i can sometimes feel quite overwhelmed. I am a lifelong animal lover. The majority of my animal friends during my life were birds. For this reason, i was never really interested in a cat as a pet until a few years ago when i started getting interested in the Devon Rex and the Sphynx breeds. A friend of mine had a female Sphynx of was being driven up the wall by her 3 other male Sphynx. She made me an offer i could not refuse… would i adopt her female? I jumped at the opportunity. During this time, we were have some particularly difficult times at work with some major changes. I would come home with headaches, bad anxiety and my face was red. From the very first day when Bella greeted. me at the door after work, these symptoms stopped. It did not occur to me before several weeks after when i. thought “hey wait a minute…”. I have never felt those overwhelming feelings again so far, and it’s just as crazy busy at the office as it as back then! It’s been about eight months!

    • Liz-cat May 17, 2013 at 11:50 am #

      Murielle – I’m so happy you and Bella found each other, and I love your story! Thank you so much for sharing it on my blog.

  8. becca August 6, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    Just the other day I had a really sore back. When I went to sleep I layed on my stomach and hoped for the best. In the middle of the night, my cat layed on my back and the pain immediately subsided. It was crazy! In the morning, my back didn`t hurt at all. :)

    • Liz-cat August 22, 2012 at 8:38 pm #

      Love your cat back healing story, Becca. Thanks!

  9. terri May 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    I had a really bad head ache today had to sleep it off, my cat came and sat with me but her paws where on my leg. When i woke up my headache was gone. It could have been the sleep but i feel my cat sent healing to me whilst her paws where on me.

    • Liz-cat May 4, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

      Terri, I agree, I think your cat was helping you out there! Thanks for sharing your headache-be-gone story.

  10. Molly August 10, 2011 at 9:00 am #

    Liz, my oldest cat, Harley (age 14), saved me several times from committing suicide! I also had a very sweet cat, Angel, who used to lie on my husband’s side when he had withdrawals from drugs and alcohol. He said that while she was lying on him, the symptoms were tolerable, but when she got off, he could barely stand it. She was a bona fide healer who, I think, gave so much of herself that it caused her irreparable harm. She passed away when she was 3 years old from one too many seizures. Needless to say, it was the worst day of my life. I’m just grateful that she was in my life. We still have 5 cat-children, along with feral cats outside. After reading all your articles, I will never be without a cat again!!! Thanks for sharing!

    • Liz-cat August 11, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

      Molly, those are profound examples of feline healing. Thank you so much for sharing–Harley and Angel’s stories will stick with me. Hope to see you around here often. : )

  11. nanette July 26, 2011 at 8:43 am #

    I do believe that cats have an amazing ability to heal that we haven’t tapped into or maybe the Egyptians new this centuries ago.

  12. nanette July 26, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    My cat is an acupuncturist. I first noticed a few years ago when I had a bad sinus infection that lasted for months. My cat curled up tight on top of my head and gently stuck her claw in the top of my head. I felt her one claw go into my scalp and when I sat up my nose drained like never before. Within a few days I was completely better. She also saved me from a possible stroke with very high blood pressure she wrapped her body tightly around my head like a halo.

    • Liz-cat July 28, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

      Nanette, wow–what a great cat! Thank you for sharing your healing stories.

  13. Layla Morgan Wilde June 9, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

    Yes, without a doubt. When I used to teach aromatherapy massage, my two Siamese assistants would do Reiki. I had clients who insisted we couldn’t begin until a cat was on the massage table.

    • Liz-cat June 10, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

      Layla, I get that!
      It’s great to see CatWisdom101 representing here. Thank you!

  14. Morab April 19, 2011 at 2:06 am #

    I love my cat!! Thank you for the informative article. I’ll cuddle him extra. How, I don’t know, as we are already inseparable.!

    • Liz-cat April 19, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

      Morab, I know what you mean.

  15. Ruth March 22, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    Of course cats have healing powers…there isn’t any question in MY mind! I cannot tell you the various times when my cats made all the difference in the world.
    I’m looking forward to your receiving your blog. I’ve just signed up.

    • Liz-cat March 23, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

      Thanks Ruth, it’s great to have you around! I took a quick look at your website and only wish we lived closer so you could petsit for us!

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