Cats: The Purr-fect Cure for What Ails You.

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Did you know…

… that many studies have shown how pets can help to reduce stress and even lower blood pressure?

I didn’t, at least, not until recently.

I sat in the corner of the room my cats live in, cross-legged, and quietly observed them as they routinely padded around their living space. A sniff here, a prod there. Such inquisitive creatures. I watched as Chibi, my youngest, hopped onto the short wooden stool and meowed. As if to hope that I would understand what he just said. Not waiting for a reply from me, he hopped off the chair and started licking himself. My eldest boy, Loki, carefully made his way towards me but decided to rest against the wall not far from where I sat.

It was pleasant sitting in the room with them. But then it gets better than that.

Chibi meowed again and came towards me. A paw on my knee, followed by a second, third and finally the last hind leg. He stood there, rather precariously, on my thighs before settling himself down on me. I reached up to stroke his body, smoothed his fur and scratched his ears. I caressed his neck, rubbed his cheeks and gently massaged his soft and pink, jellybean toes. I sat there for what seemed like forever, my legs falling asleep. I craned my neck and took a peek at his face. There was a look of content on his face, a couple of slow blinks. Then his eyes closed. I’ve never seen him so cosy and comfortable before. My endless stroking and petting had put him to sleep. And you know what else? I felt myself drifting off as well!

My husband had mentioned before that the petting of cats can reduce the stress we feel. Well, if you have a bunny, I’m sure the same applies. For those who live with depression or anxiety (yours truly suffers from this caused by work stress), pets can truly be an integral part of getting through the day and overcoming challenges. And this is true for both adults and children.

The Academy of Anxiety and Depression of America states that anxiety disorders affect one in eight children. This is important to me because I was recently diagnosed with anxiety due to insane work stress. I hit rock-bottom hard and struggled to resurface for air but nothing worked. I lost interest in my hobbies, I found it difficult to read and focus, I lost precious sleep, I hadn’t wanted to see anyone. Not even my own parents. But one thing kept me going and that was my cats. They became my best option for therapy (free as well since I didn’t need to pay a fortune to see a real therapist), and that’s when I saw how the healing power of felines helped me through my darkest days.

Here are the top 3 reasons why I love my boys so much and am so grateful for how they have made me feel today:

They provide stress relief

Physical contact with your cat can lead to the production of oxytocin, a hormone that reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. All it means is the simple act of stroking your feline friend can relieve your stress and help you relax. Your heart rate and blood pressure are lowered, resulting in you focusing on your kitty rather than on your daily worries. It’s difficult to react with anger when you have a purring cat in your lap, no?

They provide health benefits

Petting and stroking your cat generally makes you feel good and happy. You feel more relaxed, calmer and less stressed about life. Spending time with and petting your cat can also help to prevent anxiety-related health issues. When you reduce the amount of stress in your life, your blood pressure is lowered and your chances of suffering from anxiety-related illnesses are reduced as well. It’s a domino effect that I don’t mind having.

Petting makes them feel loved

The act of petting works both ways. Not only does it help you breathe easier but it also shows how much tender loving care your cat is getting from you. Want to make the connection even better? Concentrate your rubbing and/or stroking motions on the areas behind her ears and eyes. Don’t forget the cheeks and the chin, too. Your cat will thank you for the ad-hoc massage and purr like a well-oiled, V8 engine of a sleek, sports car!

I used to think that term “therapy animal” was for dogs. After all, it is a given that dogs make excellent companions and constantly provide assistance to humans to cope in a variety of ways. But cats can be certified as official therapy animals too. Cats may not be for everyone, but they certainly are for me. That’s why I make it a point to spend as much time as possible with them.

Want more reasons to own a cat? Read Mental Floss for 10 Scientific Benefits for Being A Cat Owner.

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“Guest” Who’s Here!

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In case you’re wondering, I’m not talking about some paranormal being that is sharing my home with me.

I was referring to an actual human visitor or guest whom you’ve picked up from the arrival hall of your local airport. It could be a friend whom you have not seen in many years or it could be someone you met from your last travel to Italy and that person has decided to pay you a visit. Technically, he or she would be treating your home like an AirBnB.

My husband and I have been living in our condo for three years now but we never had the chance of having someone else living with us. Apart from our two cats, of course. When you have another person living with you, things can be different. Your way of life changes, for one. And the way you normally do things. Not to mention, the number of belongings and clothes pile up. If your guest happens to stay with you for more than a couple of days, you may want to lay down some rules. After all, it’s still your home and the last thing you need is for your guest to turn it upside down. Even if it’s your very close friend, you wouldn’t want that relationship torn apart because of some silly habit.

I remember staying in Brisbane for six months with two housemates. We lived at a river-side housing, off campus. A three-bedroom, two-bathroom place with a friend I met in college and another person from a different country. My friend and I were close back in our college days. But living with her was another thing altogether. I suppose we thought that what could go wrong, after all, we’ve known each other for some time now and us living under the same roof would just bring us closer. Or so I thought. Apparently, I was wrong. Whether we had house rules or not, the two of us being in such close proximity together actually tore us apart.

And yes, because of several tiny and trivial habits.

But I’m now living in my own space with my husband and a friend who just arrived in the country yesterday. She’d be here for a month but for the time being, she’ll be staying with me until her parents fly back to the country. While she’s an agreeable person and an easy-going individual, there still has to be some house rules to follow or else all hell will break loose.

So far, everything is great. Everything is going smoothly and no one’s stepping on any toes. I can say it’s going well particularly because all of us are introverts. We value our precious time spent together during meal times but we also appreciate the occasional time-out to unwind and be on our own. In fact, I truly appreciate her staying with us at the moment as her presence forces my husband and I to live properly. In a sense that breakfast, lunch and dinner are taken between the hours of 9:00am to 11:00am; 12:00pm to 2:00pm; and 6:00pm to 8:00pm, respectively. In the weeks before this, we were going to bed at 5:00am after spending the entire night gaming, waking up at 1:00pm, while having our lunch and dinner at 4:00pm and 10:00pm. And the horrid cycle starts again when we go to bed at 5:00am.

What do you think? Would you set down some rules for a friend who’s staying with you to follow or would you let them live as they please?

Do Not Disturb. Reading in Progress.

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How often does this happen to you?

You decide to do some reading. So you pick up your book and turn to the chapter where you last stopped, only to have someone sidle up to you and start talking or asking questions?

Annoying, isn’t it?

I’ve had a few instances myself, a few times during my lunch break at work or even while I’m at home. I would turn to the page where I left my bookmark, settle in for a cosy reading session, my eyes acclimatising to the chapter in front of me… when someone decides to ask me a question.

At that very point as I’m about to read out the words aloud in my mind.

Oh, the agony! Really? All those times during office hours you could have asked me all that you wanted to, and you wait until I start reading. It’s a conspiracy! Of course I no longer face that problem since I’ve already left the company but still, when it happened, if looks could kill, the questioner wouldn’t live to see the sun rise the next morning.

This reminds of a scenario that occurred sometime in January or February this year. I packed some lunch from home and decided to have it at my desk in the office. I brought my book with me so after a delicious meal of overnight couscous with bacon, capsicum and mushrooms (reheated in the office microwave), I decided to catch up with my reading. I had only gone so far when my then manager came back from his lunch break. He proceeded to ask me a question, a little dense as to not noticing that I had my attention elsewhere, and waited for my response. He saw me holding the book in my hand, my eyes darting up at him and then down at my book…

And yet somehow he proceeds to ask the most ridiculous question in the world.

Sorry, were you reading?

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It’s similar to when you’re using your headphones while you’re listening to music or watching a movie, and someone comes up to you and starts talking to you.

Excuse me but do you not see that I’m in the middle of something here? Maybe we need a sign that says, “Warning! Reading in progress. Any interruptions will be dealt with severely. Further interruptions will result in serious injury. Or death.Something like this.

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Or this:

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Now excuse me while I build an anti-reader wall around me so I can read in peace.