Blindness has a profound impact on a person's life, limiting mobility and independence. The 2011 National Health Interview Survey estimates 21.2 million adults in the United States struggle with vision loss. Cats can provide emotional support that brighten a person's day and fill their life with love and laughter.
Cats Alleviate Loneliness and Depression
According to a 2011 study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, 2.4 million adults with vision loss are widowed; 3.6 million are divorced or separated and 3.4 million have never been married. A cat can minimize this sense of loneliness by providing constant companionship. A cat's soft purring and silky fur can be comforting when someone is feeling alone.
Cats Reduce Stress and Provide Significance
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 9.6 million adults with vision loss have a family income of less than $35,000, creating financial pressure and stress. More than 59,000 children in the United States struggle with vision loss, making school and peer relationships more difficult. Petting or snuggling with a cat for 15 to 30 minutes is a sure-fire way to reduce stress and anxiety. This activity releases endorphins in the body, which produces feelings of happiness and relaxation. Caring for a cat also can provide a blind person with a sense of purpose and significance. As humans we have an innate longing to be needed and to care for someone else. Even shopping can take on a whole new dimension when purchasing items for your cat.
Cats Alleviate Social Anxiety
Meeting new people can be challenging. Individuals with a disability, such as blindness, may feel self-conscious in social situations. The mere thought of hosting a party or going on a date can be overwhelming. Bringing a pet to outdoor parties or social encounters can help overcome this awkwardness. A cat can help break the ice, making it easier to strike up a conversation with someone new.
Cats Increase Happiness and Self-Esteem
Blindness creates unimaginable challenges in the areas of work, career and education. The National Federation for the Blind points out that only 36.8 percent of blind, working age adults are employed. More than 4 million did not complete high school and 31 percent live below the poverty line. These or similar circumstances may cause those who are blind or a loved one to struggle with self-esteem and embarrassment. Cats provide unconditional love and acceptance. Studies have proven that blind people who own guide dogs have higher self-esteem levels than those without one. Cats can create the same positive affect.
- Humane League: Why Do People Love Their Pets?
- Petfinder.com: How Cats Keep You Healthy
- : Companion Animals in Human Health; Cindy C. Wilson, Dennis C. Turner
- American Foundation for the Blind: Facts and Figures on Adults with Vision Loss
- National Federation of the Blind: Statistical Facts about Blindness in the United States (2011)
- Purina: Getting a Cat
- George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images