Introduction to National Cat Day!
Do you have a loving feline at home, anxiously waiting for you to come home to feed them? If so, you share that with 42.7 million U.S. households that have at least one cat in the house. If you don’t, well, maybe you should! Every year, 1.6 million cats get adopted, and although kittens are far more likely to get adopted than older cats, each and every cat is special. Dogs are more prevalent than cats in households, but households generally own more cats than dogs, so it evens out. Pets power the economy with $99 billion per year spent on our loving pets.
National Cat Day was created by Colleen Paige, who wanted to encourage cat adoption with this special day every October 29th. This was supported and continued by the American Society for the Prevention of Animals, and was first celebrated in 2005, “"to help galvanize the public to recognize the number of cats that need to be rescued each year and also to encourage cat lovers to celebrate the cat(s) in their life for the unconditional love and companionship they bestow upon us."
There are 88 million cats in the U.S., compared to only 74 million dogs, so cats have a decided advantage!
Although adoption rates are down during the pandemic, I had a difficult time finding a shelter that was open who would allow me to adopt a cat in early 2020. I had to drive all the way up to Redwood City to find exactly the pet I was looking for: a black male kitten, who came with another black and white kitten with just one eye. My beloved cats have helped me get through the pandemic, and I am very happy to have them.
Tragically, over a half a million cats are euthanized every year because there’s simply no space and not enough money to house all of them. If a cat is lost, it is far less likely to be recovered at the shelter than are dogs. Many are surrendered at a shelter due to housing issues or allergies.
Who Owns a Cat—And Why?
Surprisingly, more men (37%) than women (33%) own a cat. 89% of cat owners say that they are satisfied with their sleep—they are the purrrfect sleeping companion, and far healthier than sleeping pills! There are 6.5 billion photos and videos of cats on the internet—nearly one for every person in the world. Why wait to be the last person to post a picture of a cat online?
Most people (52%) get a cat because they want companionship. 40% get a cat to improve your mental health. Just think—instead of getting therapy, you can get a cat instead! They also sleep up to 15 hours a day, and wash for 5 hours a day. As a result, they are far lower maintenance than dogs as pets. Cats are healthy for people—a study by the University of Minnesota revealed that the chances of having a heart attack are reduced by 40% if you own a cat. A cat’s purr has reputed healing powers, and helps to lower blood pressure, strengthen bones and muscles, and help with sleep. Unlike dogs, they bathe themselves and are persnickety at keeping themselves clean. Cats have a lower carbon footprint than a dog. According to a study in Finland, children with cats in the household are less likely to become ill with respiratory illnesses or allergies; something about cats seems to promote a stronger immune system for children.
Even if you don’t own a cat, you can still benefit from other cat owners! A researcher at Indiana University’s Media School reported that people watching cat videos display fewer negative emotions, were more energetic and felt more positive about life. One researcher claimed that even if you are procrastinating while watching cat videos, it can help you take on tough tasks afterwards. Imagine that if watching other cats gives you these benefits, what more benefits you can have if you actually own a cat!
Lastly, cats are excellent hunters and keep the rodent population to a minimum. Even if your pet doesn’t bring you regular “gifts”, the pests will soon go elsewhere once the scent of a cat is in the vicinity. Your house will be happier and healthier for owning a cat.
How long have cats and humans been friends? It’s uncertain, but possibly back as far as 10,000 years ago, the two species realized that they could provide mutual benefits to one another. Cats were venerated in ancient Egypt and although they had a bad reputation in the middle ages, cats have since then made a comeback as desirable pets. Ever since arriving in the Americas in the 1600’s, as they helped keep the rodent population down on the ships as they sailed over the Atlantic. Since then, they have provided love and comfort to human beings and the feeling has been mutual.
Celebrating National Cat Day
There are many ways to celebration National Cat Day. The best way is to go out and adopt a cat from your local shelter. Here are some other suggestions:
- Bake cat-shaped cookies!
- Treat your cat to a baked tuna cookie—I’m sure they’d enjoy it!
- Buy your cat a new toy.
- Assist an elderly neighbor by cleaning out their cat’s litter box.
- Donate to your local shelter.
- Take photos of your cat or a video of your cat and post it online. (Why not share the wealth?)
My first pet was a cat, just after having the measles at the age of three. Throughout my life, and getting through the Pandemic, cats have been a valuable source of companionship. Whether it’s snuggling up with one while watching football on a cold winter night, or scratching the other cat behind the ears right as I go to bed, I found that my life has been made infinitely better with the presence of a cat. I hope that this blog encourages at least one person in the SJPL community to go find a furry new companion for their home. I suspect that the benefits that the cat brings to you will far exceed the benefits you bring to them.