Critter Corner: The Power of the Purr

Dear BeBe,
I am completely stressed out caregiving for my father who has Alzheimer’s, although I admit it’s a labor of love. I think my lack of life balance is affecting my health. My brother told me that the purr of a cat helps relieve stress, among other things. Is this true, and what other benefits do feline friends offer?
Kat Purrs
Dear Kat,
Caregiving can be challenging, so be sure to take care of yourself too! You are correct that cats are not just cute and furry companions — they can also be good for your health. According to the Humane Society of the United States, 62% of American households own at least one pet, and a little less than half of those households own at least one cat, and that’s certainly a good thing. House cats, such as myself, may actually be contributing to our physical well-being by offering soothing cat purrs!
Recent research has shown that the soothing sounds of a kitty can aid your body in a number of ways. Cats are able to heal because their purrs fluctuate between 20-140 Hz, a frequency range which has been proven to be medically therapeutic. These purrs help lower stress and blood pressure. Studies also show that cat owners are about 40% less likely to have a heart attack than those without cats. Every night you can find me and one of my kitty sisters, Prana, purring affectionately while laid out on Evan’s lap or tummy or right beside him on the sofa. And at the same time, my brother Sporty and my other sister Friendy are usually sprawled out across Jeannie‘s lap. Many of our clients say that Evan and Jeannie have a Zen type of calming energy about them, and I think we are a big part of the reason for that!
A cat’s purr can help their owner’s body and their own at the same time. Purrs cut down on the effects of dyspnea (difficulty breathing) in both humans and cats. Unless, of course, you’re allergic!
Purrs aren’t just preventative health tools; a kitty’s rumblings can also help heal. Purrs have been shown to cut down the healing time of infections, broken bones, and muscle injuries. So next time you’re aching, skip the hot pad and  just put a happy cat on the spot in need.
Feline friends also offer these benefits:
  • The love and positive feelings you have for your cat can give your immune system a boost;
  • Playing and cuddling with your cat and the unconditional love they provide improve mood and can help relieve depression;
  • Cat lovers are more likely to have lower blood pressure, reduced heart rate and less anxiety;
  • It is thought that stroking a cat reduces stress-related hormones in the blood;
  • Studies have shown nursing homes that allow therapy cats have lower medication costs than facilities without cats; and
  • Cats can help children with developmental disorders as well, especially with communication.
If you have a cat, go thank and hug ’em and play and give them cat nip and healthy treats! And then pick up some of those sweet, healthy purrs! If you don’t have a cat, please consider adoption. There are lots of cats who need homes at your local animal shelter — just like me six years ago before Evan and Jeannie adopted me! We make purrfect pets!
Bonus pics of Evan with author’s kitty sisters, Bebe and Praha and Jeannie with Sporty and Friendy.
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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.