HEALTH AND WELLNESS
It's never too late to paws and breathe.
By ALMA J. BUELVA
THE world has gone to the cats. Whoever was the genius that thought of assigning one day in the calendar as Hug Your Cat Day has successfully solidified cats' place in our lives.
Although cat owners surely hug their cats more often than that, what makes June 4 so special is it has become a global annual event that cat lovers embrace with much affection.
Cat lovers don't need an excuse to hug their cats. Hugging a cat is good for you and your cat. Here are some very good reasons why you should do it more frequently.
STRENGTHENS EMOTIONAL BOND
Hugging makes the bond between you and your cat stronger. Cat feels loved and protected while you get to hear the ultimate relaxing purr of a cat. Hugging will make you and your cat feeling warm and fuzzy inside.
MAKES CAT WELL-ADJUSTED
The more you hug your cat, the more it becomes accustomed and relaxed around you. It becomes more trusting and less jumpy. Studies have established that well-hugged babies are less easily stressed as adults. The same can be true for pets like cats.
If hugging even a teddy bear can help some people fight anxiety, what more if it's a breathing, purring cat? Who needs a stuffed toy to hug if you have a purr machine that helps balance out your nervous system?
POSITIVE CHEMICAL REACTION
Think Oxytocin, Dopamine, Serotonin. Yes, cats have the power to shake up things inside you in a good way especially if you give them a good hug.
When we give or get a hug, our pituitary glands let oxytocin (a.k.a. love hormone) to flow through our bodies resulting in lower heart rates and cortisol hormone levels responsible for stress, high blood pressure and heart ailments.
Hugging someone, including a cat, also stimulates the release of dopamine (the pleasure hormone) into our system. Hugs can help keep dopamine levels from going south so that a person can avoid being moody and sluggish, among others.
Serotonin, like endorphins, also needs an electrifying trigger for it to help improve one's disposition and health. Serotonin fights stress and the blues. Hugging is said to help in bringing up one's serotonin levels so a person can feel better inside and out.
A hug creates a strong emotional cocoon but aside from that it actually “massages” our heart. Cat owners are said to be 40 percent less likely to have a heart attack and 30 percent unlikely to die from a heart disease. So, keep calm and hug a cat.
STRONGER IMMUNE SYSTEM
Hugs boost the immune system naturally because of all the combination of stress-relieving hormones that get activated by loving touch. Hugs also stimulate the body's thymus gland said to be responsible in regulating the production of white blood cells that fight diseases. Also, the closer you get with a cat, the more it could make you develop some sort of defense against allergens.
DETECT CAT'S HEALTH PROBLEMS
Hugging your cat allows you a good opportunity to feel its body and clue you in about something wrong under its fur. Normally, cats are very good at hiding their discomfort and don't want to be poked around. Seize the chance to find lumps or sore areas in your cat's body while its muscles are relaxed as you two hug.
MAKES THE WORLD BETTER
It may not completely bring world peace, but if lots of people would hug a cat for an extended period for a day won't this world be a better place?
Just like laughters, hugs could be the other best medicine to cure the heart and soul. Get a sweet, funny cat and you can have both!
Photos used for this article are from MetroPets readers who submitted them as entries for the Hug Your Cat Day Photo Contest 2015.
* Veterinarians concerned about rising pet obesity cases