Last Updated on December 31, 2022 by Pets Feed
When people say they love cats, that love can be very powerful. For many, a cat is an exceptionally reliable friend and a comforting presence in times of loneliness. However, are these intimate relationships psychologically or physically healthy?
Geneticists, infectious disease doctors, psychologists and others have offered several theories as to why people love cats so much and what effect they can have on people’s health.
According to DNA analysis, the ancestor of the modern domestic cat was the African wildcat Felis silvestris lybica, which lived in the Fertile Crescent, at the intersection of ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Levant and Persia.
Although it seems likely that our relationship with cats began around 9,500 years ago in the Middle East, the earliest evidence of a relationship between cats and humans dates back 5,300 years to the farming village of Quanhukun. , in China. Egyptians are known to have believed that their cats embodied divine energy.
A study indicates that there are at least 13 feline genes that signal the transition of cats “from wild to domestic”. These genes are associated with cognition and behavior and may have improved cats’ ability to learn food rewards and be less fearful of humans. The wide geographical distribution of cats probably occurred in the Middle Ages.
What do people like in cats?
Patricia Pendry of Washington State University studies human-animal interactions. She published a study describing a particularly strong bond between highly emotional people and their cats. Dr. Pendry suggested that the unpredictable behavior of cats might be of interest to humans:
“The subtle and somewhat unpredictable reactions of cats make us feel like we’re the chosen ones – or are perceived as ‘special’ when the cat’s reaction actually occurs. I also think that since it usually takes a little longer to a reaction appears, we are overwhelmed with the desire to know what the cat is going to do,” explains Dr Pendry.
It’s also possible, according to some research, that we can’t help but think cats are cute because of features similar to human babies. We instinctively respond to big eyes and playful behavior, an evolutionary trait that has helped us care for our offspring. Kittens, in particular, put unbridled energy into their play. Adult cats can be just as funny and entertaining.
Cats have an undeserved reputation as mysterious and aloof creatures due to their unique and sometimes subtle ways of expressing their feelings.
A cat’s face may appear attractive – or angry, depending on the circumstances – but it’s actually motionless and largely expressionless. Their tails also do not signal excitement or pleasure. Recent research suggests that their temperaments, however, may be closer to pleasant dogs than many realize.
Similarly, feline vocalizations, of which there are many, range from meowing to hissing, whipping birds through a window to a deep, bloody howl announcing a fight.
There is a vocalization that is clearly designed to communicate with people – for example, meowing during breakfast. However, cats mostly seem to “talk” or mumble under their breath. However, cats have many ways to signal their feelings through other behaviors.
Other methods of communicating with cats
Cats often offer to rub their heads against outstretched fingers or pant legs for people they care about or are interested in. This behavior serves two purposes. First, they leave behind pheromones secreted by special glands, marking you as their own. Second, especially in the case of pants, they collect scent information about your interactions with other animals if they deem you worthy of investigation.
People often think that purring is a sure sign of happiness, but it’s not. Cats in distress may also purr. Some scientists believe that a cat can use soothing sound to comfort itself in difficult times. Some believe that purring may even have healing properties. The hum occurs both on inspiration and exhalation, producing a hum between 20 and 150 Hertz. It is unclear exactly how they do this.
Often the presence of a cat is the best sign that it likes you, especially for shy cats. A cat will stay away from a person who does not interest him or who worries him.
Cat eyes are always quite large, but when they grow very large, sometimes with an enlarged iris, they can signal a state of overexcitement or perceived threat.
Researchers recently confirmed what some cat lovers have long suspected: To bond with your cat, blink slowly, which is like saying, “You make me feel safe enough to close my eyes, and you should feel the same.
Although whiskers are made of keratin, the same substance as hair, a cat’s whiskers are much more than that. Whiskers are specialized sensory organs, each containing between 100 and 200 nerve cells that provide the cat with information about anything it touches.
Whiskers can also signal a cat’s mood. When the cat is relaxed, they protrude from the side of the muzzle. When the cat is happy or excited, such as when gently petted, it stretches forward in a slight arc of pleasure. The whiskers are pressed against the cat’s muzzle when alarmed.
How cats affect human health
Researchers have found that living with a cat has health benefits, both physically and especially psychologically, provided you are not allergic to cats. A 2009 study found that people who had a cat had a lower risk of dying from a heart attack than people who had never had a cat.
In a 2011 survey by cat protection charity Cats Protection, 93.7% of people said that owning a cat was beneficial to their mental health. And a study found that living with multiple pets, including cats, can lower a child’s risk of developing allergies.
There are concerns about the potential zoonotic infection of cat owners by Toxoplasma gondii, a single-celled microscopic parasitic organism often found in cat feces. Some have even suggested that T. gondii could be a trigger for schizophrenia.
In 2016, researchers examined the association of T. gondii with schizophrenia and major depression, including suicidal behavior and delinquency, personality, and neurocognitive performance. Scientists have found that there is little evidence linking T. gondii to any of these conditions.
Positive psychological effects
According to Dr. Pendry, cats “give us attention, alleviate our loneliness, provide us with comfort, pleasure and play, affection and a special, unique permission to pet them and hold them in our laps, which, as we know, releases oxytocin, which in turn suppresses the production of cortisol, the stress hormone.
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