Let’s not pussyfoot around. There are plenty of reasons cats make life more interesting. 

By Karman Wittry Hotchkiss
October 28, 2020
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Credit: Viktor_Gladkov / Getty

Don’t tell my dog, but I’m a cat person at heart. Some of my earliest memories involve chasing and naming the barn cats on my grandparents’ Iowa farm. As an adult, I finally got to have a cat of my own, and discovered that the reasons I loved barn kitties as a kid still made my heart go pitter-pat. Why do I love cats? Let me count the ways…

  1. Cats enjoy the simple things in life. A box? A string? A random Dove chocolate foil wrapper? These are the things that entertain cats endlessly. We should all get so much joy from trash and trinkets.
  2. They force us to slow down. Everybody knows that the best way to avoid answering the door, getting your own glass or water, or forwarding the laundry from the washer to the dryer is to have a cat on your lap. Declaring “c.o.l.” (cat on lap) is our household’s universal excuse for avoiding any task. It’s like a cat just KNOWS when it’s time for you to stop rushing around and enjoy the moment. So they plop themselves down and anchor you for a bit. 
  3. They’re really great at self-care. All those baths keep them looking good, of course. But grooming also helps cats ease stress, promote good circulation, and maintain other helpful functions. They also have that stretching thing down-pat. I mean, they don’t call it the yoga cat pose for nothing. And cats are really good at making sure they get alone time. All good lessons that people could learn from.
  4. They have terrific visual taste. Ever notice that cats have a way of posing where they look good? Maybe it’s their penchant for a sunny spot. Or an inherent understanding of color theory. But cats seem to know how to arrange themselves just so, to appear at best advantage. Our black cat had a talent for napping on my daughter’s red-and-white checked sheets. Picture-perfect color scheme.
  5. Cats apparently see things we don’t. Ever watch a cat suddenly bolt for the other side of the room? We may never know what inspired that sudden spurt of excitement, but I’m willing to bet that cats have powers to spot what we miss.
  6. Their purrs might heal. Once in a while, when I would come home from work with a terrible headache, my feline roommate would curl up next to my head and purr his heart out. Was he just happy to have a companion in the middle of the day? Maybe. But studies show that the frequencies at which cats purr (25–150 Hz) can create vibrations that promote healing of fractures, pain, edema, and other maladies. So I like to think my cat was doing his darnedest to help me feel better.
  7. Speaking of healing, cats can lower your blood pressure. Research shows that petting your cat helps your body release the relaxation hormone cortisol, cuts down on stress hormone, and lowers blood pressure. Whenever my doctor slaps that blood pressure cuff on my arm, I immediately conjure up an image of my luscious Smokey, sitting on my lap purring, while I rhythmically pet his soft, thick fur. I don’t know if PRETENDING I’m in his loving presence truly drops my blood pressure readings, but it can’t hurt!
  8. Cats are curious. It feels like the world could use more curiosity sometimes. Curious people invent things, discover solutions, enjoy learning about other people, and seek out alternate points of view. While a cat’s pursuits aren’t as lofty, their soft-toe explorations remind us that it’s always good to be excited for what’s around the corner.
  9. Cats are crazy-strong climbers. If you’ve ever watched a cat fluidly bounce from perch to perch and then settle in on a narrow spot high above you, you know that they are a beautiful mix of power and grace. Their mighty legs propel them to amazing heights, yet they can sneak into position before you even know it. People who are way smarter than me studied how cat’s physiology makes this possible. I just love to watch cats’ lithe antics.
  10. And let’s not forget cats’ willingness to kill vermin. I mean, anybody who’s willing to chase scurrying creatures out of my basement is a hero in my book. Just don’t bring it to me afterward. Please.

We all know that “cats have nine lives” is just a saying. But if you’ve ever been a cat parent, you understand the wish that your feline friend could bring you joy forever.