This week I flipped over my cat calendar and I was struck by its healing message: “I have seen more people cured thanks to the company of a cat than tons of tablets could have done.” It’s a quote by the late Enzo Jannacci (1935-2013), an Italian singer-songwriter, pianist, actor and comedian (1).
I don’t know whether or not the cat is the cure for everything, a panacea so to say, but surely cat lovers will be the first to admit they feel much better when in a feline presence, especially when things are not that hunky-dory. Although I don’t want to promote being around a cat as a substitute for any regular form of medication, one can’t deny that our furry friends have a particular therapeutic aura. And it is not just the warmth they give us when the curl up in our laps, or the affection they show us with their head bumps (meant to create a communal smell).
It is thought that cats are their own healers, as they physically rejuvenate themselves through purring ― a kind of stress release mechanism (2). So why wouldn’t this curative property extend to other species they bond with? Actually they do. Research says cats have healing powers. Studies showed that that cats reduce stress-related blood pressure more than ace inhibitor medication. They may even reduce heart attack risk by 40%. Some institutes for multi-disciplinary research involving human-animal communication even claim that the cats used in their studies created purr vibrations within the range that is medically therapeutic (20-140 Hz), which is especially beneficial for bone and muscle growth and wound healing (3).
1.) Originally in Italian: “Ho visto guarire più persone grazie alla compagnia di un gatto di quanto non abbiano fatto tonnellate di medicine.”. This quote by Enzo Jannacci was translated in Dutch as “Ik ken veel mensen die door het gezelschap van een kat sneller beter werden dan een kruiwagen vol tabletten voor elkaar had kunnen krijgen”. The earliest mention I found here: http://www.gattoamico.it/frasidelgiorno/frasi7.htm