How Petting Cats Can Help Them Live Longer

Shut up right meow. If ever you wondered if your cat was getting as much from your cuddles sessions as you do, rest assured the behavior is mutually beneficial. Scientists recently found that "gentling" actually serves to help keep cats healthy. That's right: Interactions like petting, brushing, and talking to your feline pal not only make her purr when you spend some quality time together, but moreover, they also help to ensure she'll be around to do so for many years to come. In which case, it's quite possible Taylor Swift's jet-setting cats Meredith Grey and Olivia Benson may live to be 115.

Now that scientists know positive interaction with cats has a direct correlation to their health, the hope is that they can use this information to further improve the quality of life of shelter cats — extending their lives by proxy. Plus, shelter cats in good physical health are much more appealing to potential adopters than those with health problems (which isn't fair, but alas, human behavior is often incredibly unfair). In the study, which was published in the journal Preventative Veterinary Medicine, 96 shelter cats were split into two groups. In the first group, each cat got positive interaction from the same person 10 minutes at a time, four times a day, for 10 days. The control group, meanwhile, spent the same time every day with a researcher simply standing in front of their cage with eyes averted, much like you might experience at a typical animal shelter.

At the onset of the study, all participating cats had been deemed healthy. However — and this is both interesting and heartbreaking — only the cats who had experienced regular gentling had maintained their content dispositions. Also, they were far less likely to get sick. In fact, 17 or the 49 cats in the control group wound up with upper respiratory disorders, compared to only nine of the gentling group. Nadine Gourkow, one of the animal welfare consultants who performed the study, told The Huffington Post that she unveiled a "strong association between positive emotions induced by gentling and good health." The reasoning is likely rooted in the physiological — when cats are happy, they produce more antibodies, and antibodies fight off infection. Next up? The two animal-loving doctors will conduct a study to try to determing which gentling techniques are the most effective. At which point, obviously, all cats will soon enter kitty nirvana.

So even if you can't bring a kitty home with you, consider heading to your local shelter and whiling an afternoon with the cat and kittens there. And, in case you need any extra incentive to go forth and linger with a feline friend, I present to you 15 cat GIFs so irresistibly adorable you'll be powerless to resist their sweet little whiskered faces. Bonus? Science has proven watching cat videos improves your mood.

This sweet little stir-crazy fella sure could use some company.

Are you kitten me? A cat and a rabbit? The cuteness is strong with these two.

Just when you thought life couldn't get any sweeter than cat and rabbit BFFs, someone adds babies to the mix.

Oh my heavens. This gorgeous rescue girl has life all figured out.

There are no words.

I bet a good backrub would break this cutie-pie out of his mid-afternoon slump. Or, you know, put him to sleep. Either way, he'd do whatever adorably.

This little guy is giving me life goals right now. See also: Is it time to take a nap yet?

Seriously, though. If you could resist this face, there is an unwholly darkness in your soul for which there is no comprehension.

Coincidentally, I make the exact same face when I'm getting a back rub.

I'm not even sure what's going on here, but it's bloody brilliant. How could anyone question the wonders of catkind with footage like this in existence?

Could there be anything cuter than a cat using chopsticks? It seems unlikely.

Any cat who uses spirit fingers is a cat who deserves a cuddle in my book.

I can think of no one who doesn't love a ninja kitty. And, even if I could, ninja kitty would karate chop them in the head and reprogram their brain.

He's just so wittle... and fuzzy... and GAH. If my soul had an emoji, I'd want it to look like this kitten.

I feel fairly certain he's saying, "Please, ma'am... won't you go pet a shelter kitten today?" Head over to to pinpoint a shelter near you and start making cats happy and healthy.

Images: Giphy (16)