Cats help owners beat the winter blues


Whiskers' benefits extend beyond keeping you company while you watch TV at night.

If you've got common symptoms of the winter blues-heachaches, colds, sleep problems, difficulty concentrating and relaxing, and generally feeling miserable-the solution may be simple: get a cat. Your feline friend can help you power through the dreary winter months and perk up with thoughts of spring showers, according to a new study.

British psychologist Dr. June McNicholas found that during January and February, cat owners suffer 60 percent fewer headaches than non-cat owners, are 21 percent less likely to catch a cold or flu, and feel significantly less miserable, impatient, and tense. Cat owners also suffer fewer sleep problems, are less likely to be tearful and are more able to relax than those who don't own a cat, according to the study. Dr. McNicholas carried out the five-year study for the U.K. nonprofit organization Cats Protection.

Maggie Roberts, director of veterinary services for Cats Protection, says cats' playfulness and companionship can do wonders for cheering up their owners. This is especially true in the winter months, when owners are more likely to spend time indoors with their cats. “There's nothing quite like having a purring cat on your lap on a cold winter evening to lift your spirits, as this research shows,” says Roberts.

According to Dr. McNicholas, the positive effects of owning a cat during winter benefited owners of both genders and across all age groups. But these effects seemed significantly strong in men under 40.

Click here to learn more about Cats Protection.

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