Pets can be trusted companions for those living with chronic illness, offering playful company and emotional support through the highs and lows of managing their health. Our CreakyJoints community has shared with us in the past about the power of pets and how they can help alleviate stress and better cope with chronic illness. Many have expressed how pets can get them moving, provide emotional comfort, and even sense when they are in pain.
Now, recent research has found that a cat’s purr might have healing effects. Cats purr at certain frequencies that are linked to promoting bone growth, fracture healing, and relief from pain, inflammation, and breathlessness. Moreover, cat purrs can lower stress and have a calming effect, resulting in lower blood pressure.
In our latest poll, the Global Healthy Living Foundation’s Patient Support Program aimed to gain insight into the power of pets in the lives of our community members. Specifically, we asked if they have a cat and if they feel better when they’re around their cat?
Of the 1,722 respondents, 66 percent reported having a cat at home. Here are key learnings and insights from the poll.
Felines Help You Feel Better
Our poll found that the majority of people with chronic illness feel their cats help them feel better. As part of the poll, we asked “when you are around cats, do you feel they help you feel better?”
- 73 percent said yes
- 14 percent said I’m not sure
- 13 percent said no
Participants were also able to share any additional thoughts about cats’ potential healing effects in a free response section. With the help of SurveyMonkey software, we conducted a sentiment analysis that uses machine learning and natural language processing to categorize each response as positive, negative, or neutral.
This analysis revealed that 80 percent had positive things to say about cats’ healing effects, while 11 percent had negative comments and 9 percent were neutral. An example of negative comments included, “Super allergic, which increases my chances of flaring,” and “The cat stresses me as he scratches our furniture, our carpets, and he kills birds.”
Cats Lessen Pain, Provide Calming Support
Here are a few of the healing effects noted by our chronic illness community members with cats.
- “Just the sound and feeling the vibrations of my cat’s purrs help my anxiety, depression, and pain levels.”
- “After back surgery and knee replacement, my cat never left my side. She got me through my long recovery time. She definitely calmed me, and I slept better when she laid beside me.”
- “As well as RA I have type 1 diabetes. My cat has woken me up multiple times when my blood sugars were too low.”
- “My cat’s cuddles and purrs distract me when I’m in pain. He’s one of the most important ‘tools’ in my pain management arsenal.”
- “Chronic illness is incredibly isolating. Cats offer non-judgmental support.”
It’s clear there can be many benefits to having a pet, especially when you live with chronic illness. You can even register your cat as an emotional support animal (ESA) with U.S. Service Animals.
Be a More Proactive Patient with PatientSpot
PatientSpot (formerly ArthritisPower) is a patient-led, patient-centered research registry for people living with chronic conditions. You can participate in voluntary research studies about your health conditions and use the app to track your symptoms, disease activity, and medications — and share with your doctor. Learn more and sign up here.