Cats aren't always easy to take care of, and they often require a substantial time commitment, but they provide an amazing return on that time investment, especially when it comes to your health. Case in point: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pet owners tend to have lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels than non-pet owners. But that’s not all. Cats also model many surprisingly healthy behaviors that humans would do well to emulate. Here are just a few, according to veterinarians and other pet experts.
1. They focus on what matters most. You may get grumpy after a bad day at the office, but your feline never does. Cats mostly care about food, love, and shelter (not always in that order). As long as they have those things, they don’t need much else,” Mary Gardner, DVM, a veterinarian and cofounder of Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice tells Yahoo Health. Cats also don’t complain much at all. People believe they hide their pain; I simply think they manage it differently.” If humans could model these behaviors, Gardner adds, we’d be healthier, happier, “and more people would want to be around us.”
2. They practice portion control (even if not by choice). Snowball might not want to limit her kibble intake any more than you want to limit your tortilla-chip intake. Nonetheless, she typically eats reasonably sized helpings of nutritionally balanced food — and never gets to eat straight out of the bag. Follow her lead. “Both animals and people need structure and regulation when it comes to portion size,” says Jme Thomas, executive director of Motley Zoo Animal Rescue based in Redmond, Washington.
3. They know how to de-stress. Your feline doesn’t pour a glass of cabernet when the going gets rough (though, yes, it would make a very popular YouTube video if she did). She may, however, start begging to play a game.
4. They hit the hay. People don’t get enough sleep: According to a 2014 survey by the National Sleep Foundation, 45 percent of Americans said that a lack of sleep had impaired their activities at least once in the previous week. Learn from your cat, who knows just how important it is to get enough shut-eye, says Jeff Werber, VVM, president and chief veterinarian of Century Veterinary Group in Los Angeles. “You will always find your cat taking a quick cat nap, so you won’t find them burning the candles at both ends.”
5. They stretch! There’s a reason one of the most common yoga moves is named after pet behaviors. Cats stretch constantly — and we should do the same, notes Russell Hartstein. Why? Stretching can improve flexibility and reduce your risk of injury.
6. They’re open to new things. Cats are naturally curious. “Open a box or empty a bag and before you know it, your cat will have climbed in to investigate. “And they’re always up for some fun.” Since research has found that seeking out new experiences can keep people feeling young and healthy, we’d do well to follow suit.
7. They’re comfortable getting zen. Numerous studies have found a correlation between mindful meditation and reduced stress, decreased heart disease, and a stronger immune response — and that’s something your cat already knows how to do instinctively. “Each morning I sit on the sofa with my cat, Turtle, while I drink my first cup of coffee,” says Kristen Levine, a pet living expert. “We spend about 10 minutes together, her getting neck and head rubs, me enjoying her purring and having a few meditative moments at the start of the day. It sounds simple, and it can be, but depending on the activity, it can have a powerfully relaxing or invigorating effect for both human and critter.”