If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that I’m a cat person. And my cat, Magnus, is quite the character, not to mention pretty darn cute. What you may not realize is that he’s also good for my health and well-being.

Growing up, my brother and I talked our parents into getting our first cat when I was about 12. Since then I’ve never been without a cat or two or even three. Although I don’t dislike dogs, they’ve always seemed like a lot more work. Kind of like having another child.

Cats are easy. They don’t need to be walked. They have a litter box inside so there’s no need to go out in bad weather. And although they need attention, and sometimes demand it, it’s usually fairly easy to deliver what they want.

In return, your cat can help keep you healthy. Much like omega-3 can support cardiovascular health, so can a cat. In fact, a 2008 study conducted at the University of Minnesota’s Stroke Institute showed that cat owners had a 30 per cent reduced risk of death by heart attack than those without a cat. A follow-up study in 2009 suggested that owning a cat can reduce your risk from all cardiovascular diseases.

Feeling stressed or down in the dumps? Turns out that petting your cat can actually trigger a release of the “feel-good” hormone oxytocin, the same hormone that promotes mother-child bonding. And when your pet is a cuddly, warm cat, it’s pretty easy to snuggle up with them.

And that’s not all. Studies show a number of other health benefits associated with having a cat. Cats can help reduce loneliness and fulfill your social needs much like people and can help relax you and reduce your blood pressure. Researchers at one university even found that the frequency of a cat’s purr, which creates a vibration of 24 to 140 vibrations per minute, can reduce pain and promote healing.

Don’t have a cat? Or suffer from allergies? Here’s the best news. Even watching funny cat videos can be good for you, boosting your energy and making you happier. With millions of cat videos available, it’s easy to get at least some of the benefits if you don’t actually own a cat.

And if you’re a dog owner? Well, don’t worry – you can still get these benefits if your pet is a dog. Plus, dog owners get more exercise and that has its own health benefits.

Emily Arsenault