Cats Can Fight Colds & Nasty Suicide Rumors While They’re At It

catWasn't it just last week we were being told that cat owners supposedly have a higher risk of committing suicide? Well, we now have some better news about those who own cats -- or dogs. Having a cat or dog can help your baby avoid childhood illnesses. A study says that kids who are exposed to pets early in childhood are less likely to suffer severe colds, ear infections, and respiratory illnesses. Ah-ha! Vindication, cat lovers! Rejoice!

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The study concluded that children who grow up in homes with dogs or cats needed less antibiotics and got sick less. In fact, the kids who had the least amount of health problems were those who lived in homes with a dog who went outside a lot. Experts figure that a dog constantly tracking in dirt was helping children's immune systems adapt to different kinds of bacteria. Cats also afforded health protection, but to a lesser degree.

All of this makes sense to me because I grew up in a home with a dog and dozens of cats. No, I didn't grow up with an animal hoarder. Just older folks who didn't quite understand the concept of spay/neuter. At any rate, I'm one of the only people I know who has no pet or food or seasonal allergies.

However, the study didn't include parents who had pet allergies. One expert says that if a parent has pet allergies, then his or her kids were more likely to have them too. And children who were already predisposed to pet allergies may have them triggered by living with pets.

Another study said that kids who grew up on farms -- plenty of animals, plenty of dirt -- had stronger immune systems as adults. And let's not forget that having a pet isn't all about strengthening an immune system -- there are plenty of psychological benefits too. Having a dog or cat in the house can teach your child (and you!) about love, empathy, and caring for another creature. Just make sure you are prepared to care for a pet financially and emotionally. A dog, especially, requires a lot of care. And all pets are a lifetime commitment.

I say meowtastic and woofalicious to this study, and I'm sure Fido and Fluffy would agree.

Do you have a pet and do you think it's helped your child's immune system?

 

Image via Jocelynsart/Flickr

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