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Our pets are good for us: Recognising International Cat Day

There is a wealth of evidence proving what many of us already know – our pets are good for us.

Studies show that pet owners have lower blood pressure, cholesterol and allergy levels. Pets can also ease feelings of loneliness, especially in the elderly.

Cats are the most popular companion animal in New Zealand, with 44 percent of households sharing their homes with at least one cat. Our feline friends become members of the family and trusted companions.

Few owners would question the importance of medicines in helping our pets lead happy, healthy lives. But less well understood is how much we benefit from their wellbeing.

The benefits – both physical and psychological – start early. Children learn a sense of responsibility from caring for pets, and research suggests that having a pet around the home in their first year can protect children from allergies later in life. In adulthood, pets have a proven effect on stress and anxiety.

By protecting the health of the animals in their care, owners are also protecting the hugely beneficial relationships they have with these animals. Owners need to provide shelter, the right amount of nutritious food and ensure that cats have veterinary treatment when needed, including vaccinations. This will ensure that pets live as long and as comfortably as possible. Supporting this crucial bond with our cats allows us to protect the health of the animals that do so much for our wellbeing.

International Cat Day is held on 8 August. The day was established by the International Fund for Animal Welfare in the early 2000s.

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