Have you ever taken a moment to truly wonder why we love the feline race so much? Of all the animals in the world cats are certainly in the top branches of our human-animal bonding tree.
But what is it that makes us feel so good when we interact with our cat? We often say it’s because we feel needed or wanted, but there is more than just an emotional connection with our feline buddies. There is also a physical or chemical change which occurs within us that in turn effects change in our emotional state.
Studies have shown that stroking your cat produces similar reactions within us to that of being in a meditative state. This is said to help release the hormone Oxytocin which can also induce feelings of love in our emotional state.
Other studies have shown that our interaction with our cats actually can help heal our bodies. “A 10-year research study suggests that cat owners were less likely to die of heart attacks than people who have never owned one. The latter group was 40 percent more likely to die from heart attacks and 30 percent more likely to die from cardiovascular disease. Other studies confirm that cats can lower our blood pressure and release dopamine and serotonin, which reduce stress and improve immune functioning.” – John Amodeo, PhD, MFT of Psychology Today.
Dr John also goes on to say that cats create a feeling within us of ‘being received’ – a heightened state of vulnerability and trust between two beings. He makes note of the fact that humans are inherently inept at doing this with each other, as we tend to put up walls and barriers to protect ourselves emotionally from past unpleasant experiences, whereas cats tend to forget or ‘let go’ of experiences that affect them negatively and surrender to us or in a way that we would term ‘unconditional’ love.
Another key factor of the human-cat, feel-good experience is their rhythmic purring. The frequency of their purr has a calming effect again on us which reduces stress in our bodies. Cats that sit on you and purr, create a vibration within us that is calming and settling, which makes us more receptive to accessing a deeper emotional state.
When you consider that humorous saying ‘Dogs have owners, but cats have staff’, you can’t help to wonder if all this has been a divine plan completely engineered by the cat to have us surrender to their superior powers. When you consider that their whole verbal communication has been designed especially for their humans, as they do not replicate these mews and meows with each other in the same way, you have to admit that perhaps we really are under their very hypnotic spell.
That it is they that control us on a far deeper, subconscious level than we ever imagined, which has completely tricked us into thinking we love them.
But even as we think about this…and ponder their powers…I don’t know that we would really have it any other way, would we?
‘Images and videos of domestic cats make up some of the most viewed content on the web. As of 2015, there are over 2 million cat videos on YouTube alone, and cats are one of the most searched keywords on the internet’ – Wikipedia
When I weigh up all the facts, the studies, and the focus groups against all the moments of happiness experienced by having a cat in my life, the moments laughing at those YouTube videos, the tall tales of cat heroism, the anecdotes from cat owning friends. I’m happy to surrender to the hypnotic purr, their soft fur and belly rubs, the knowing glances and deep contented stares, even if they are actually the ones in control. I can wear knowing that perhaps as I say ‘I love cats’ that my thinking has been possibly been manipulated.
Whilst I can see there may be some strings at the puppet show, you know what! It’s a darn good show! And for now, I’m happy to sit in the audience and laugh and be merry with the crowd. I can be happy in my calm, peaceful, de-stressed, oxytocin filled state of blissful ignorance…I’m ok with it. In a world of stress, aggravation and intolerance everywhere we look, perhaps the cat was a divine gift to us that we are only just starting to acknowledge. Perhaps it is why we love cats so much. And for now, I’m proud to say, with gratitude in my heart ‘I truly LOVE cats!’