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Cats Are Good For The Soul


Juhlia Hilton

Current news articles

Having a pet is important for seniors, shut ins, those with health issues and the depressed. Cats are special in this regard because their needs are minimal compared to those of dogs. It is often important for people to love and care for another "being" such as a cat. A cat will love its' owner without asking for much more than love and affection, a few toys, a clean litter box and appropriate food. It will need spay/neutering. Low income people can have spaying or neutering done for free through the City of Calgary Fair Entry Program. They can be contacted by calling 311 or at A well cared for cat will give its owner much needed comfort, affection and love and it also helps make its owners life healthier both physically and mentally.

A study published in 2008 by researchers at the University of Minnesota's Stroke Institute followed nearly 4,500 people, of which 3 out of 5 people owned a cat for 10 years. They found that the cat owners were 30% less likely to die from a heart attack than people who didn't own cats. A follow-up study published the next year confirmed that cat owners were less likely to die from any cardiovascular event, including a stroke, than people who didn't own cats. This may be due in part to the cat's purr.

A cat's purrs help reduce stress. These comforting sounds are good for them and for us, too. Studies have shown that cats are better at reducing stress and lowering blood pressure than any other pet. The frequency of their purr has been shown to have many medical benefits for both the cats themselves and their owners. According to Scientific American A Cats purring has been found to have a consistent pattern between 25 and 150 Hertz. Various investigators have shown that sound frequencies in this range can improve bone density and promote healing. Frequencies between 24-140 vibrations per minute are therapeutic for bone growth, pain relief and wound healing. In addition to repairing bones. There is also evidence that the series of vibrations caused by purring can repair muscles and tendons, ease breathing, and reduce pain and swelling. In fact. researchers have found cat owners were 30 - 40 %less likely to have heart attacks than non-cat owners — and purring might play a role in that (this being important since hearth disease is a number 1 killer).

"Purring is an auditory stimulus that people attribute to peacefulness and calmness," Dr. Rebecca Johnson, director of the Research Center for Human Animal Interaction, told WebMD. "That gives us positive reinforcement for what we're doing and can contribute to the whole relaxation effect when we interact with our cats." This is so important to seniors or those who may be shut ins, depressed, lonely, ill or in need of a companion pet for relaxation and affection. More research is emerging all the time showing the health benefits of laughing. Cats are cute, and a cat's antics are often hilarious. They make you laugh which reduces cortisol levels (the stress hormone). Researches found that laughter assisted the short-term memory of older participants (a cognitive plus). Other research has linked laughter to a stronger heart and immune system.

The responsibility of looking after a creature that is alive is a wonderful way to promote positive mental health. Touch has many proven health benefits, and petting a cat seems to be just as helpful as getting a hug from a friend or a massage. Pets can also help distract us from emotional pain especially for the depressed or those with post traumatic stress syndrome. Cats offer acceptance and unconditional love. And, all this is on top of the other health benefits of owning a cat.

Pets have been shown to help reduce feelings of loneliness. There's also always someone who's excited to see you come home. Cats are perfect as indoor pets as they are quite happy to live inside apartments and condos without going outside. They don't need to be walked several times a day unlike dogs. Nor do they require caging like birds.

Cats are so adorable when they sleep and are serious about "catnapping". Studies have shown that indulging in a little afternoon or mid day snooze or rest can work wonders for your alertness, memory, creativity, productivity and overall mood. So, take your cat's advice and take the opportunity to curl up next to your furry friend and take a cozy 20-minute nap daily. This is especially important for seniors.

It is unfortunate that most rental units and apartments and residences do not allow pets or cats as the benefit to seniors is so clear. Many seniors and others are alone, and some are fighting medical issues or are lonely. Having a cat companion would be ideal for so many of these people. The problems of other tenants with cat allergies is readily taken care of by not allowing cat owners to allow their cats in common or public areas of the building or the hallways. Cats are good for the "Soul" of so many tenants that they should be considered in more apartment complexes especially seniors buildings.

Scientific Research


Juhlia Hilton
(AKA Helen I. Stewart)

My Career As a Geneticist

c. elegans hermaphroditeThe Microscopic Worm Caenorhabditis elegans drawn freehand in photoshop 6. This is what I used to work with when I worked as a Genetics Research Associate in the Baillie Genetics lab, at SFU, Burnaby, B.C. 
Note: image copyright ©  Kimborllaye all rights reserved.


Peer reviewed

Juhlia Hilton

(AKA Helen I. Stewart)


Refereed (Peer reviewed) Journal Publications

Stewart, Helen, Nigel J. O'Neil, Diana L. Janke, Norman W. Franz, Helen Chamberlin, Ann M. Howell, Erin J. Gilchrist, The Ha, Lynette M. Kuevers, Greg Vatcher and David L. Baillie. 1998. Lethal mutations defining 112 complementation groups in a 4.5 megabase sequenced of Caenerabditis elegans chromosome III. Mol. Gen. Genetics, vol.260, issue2/3, pp.280-288.

Janke, Diana L., Jacqueline E.Schein, The Ha, Norman W. Franz, Nigel J. O'Neil, , Greg Vatcher, Helen I. Stewart, Lynette M. Kuevers, David L. Baillie and Anne Rose. 1997. Interpreting a sequenced genome: toward a cosmic transgenic library of Caenerabditis elegans: Genome Research 7(10):974-985.

Stewart, H.I., R.E. Rosenbluth and David L. Baillie. 1991. Most ultraviolet induced mutations in the nematode Caenerabditis elegans are chromosomal rearrangements. Mutation Research 249: 37-47.

Scientific Notes and other Publications

under construction

Other Publications and Notes

Stewart, Helen I., Norm Franz, The Ha, Brad Barbazuckand David L. Baillie. 1996. Rescue ofnew essential genes on LGIII(left) in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. 1996 West Cost Worm Meeting, Vancouver, B.C. July 25-28. Abstract.

Stewart, Helen I., Diana Janke, The Ha, Greg Vatcher, Erin Gilchrist and David L. Baillie. Ressessive lethal mutations and deficiency analysis in Caenorhabditis elegans.1996. West Coast Worm Meeting, Vancouver, B.C. July 25-28. Abstract.

Janke, Diana L., Jacqueline E. Schein, Nigel O'Neil, Helen I.Stewart, Greg P. Vatcher, Merk L. Edgley, Jocelyn M.Gawne, David L. Baillie and Ann M Rose. 1996. Correlating the genetic and pysical maps: A cosmid transgenic library. West coast Worm meeting , Vancouver, B. C. July 25-28. Abstract,

Stewart, Helen I., Diana Collins, The Ha, David Baillie and Ann Rose 1995. Caenerhabditis elegans Balancers, recessive lethal mutations and deficiencies on LGIII(left) and LGV(right). International Worm Meeting, University of Wisconsin, Madison. Abstract.

Stewart, Helen I. and D.l. Baillie 1994. The Characterization of new essential genes on LG-III(left) in the nematode , elegans. West Coast C. elegans meeting, University of California , Los Angeles, July, 1994

Collins, D. H. Stewart, and David L Baillie 1994.The correlation of the sequenced regions of the genome . West coast C. elegans meeting,,]University of Calafornia, Los Angeles, July, 1994.

Stewart, H., A Howell and D.L. Baillie. 1993 One hundred and thirteen lethal mutations on the left arm of LGIII(left). C. elegans Worm Breeders Gazzete.

H. I. Stewart, D. Collins and D. L. Baillie. 1993. The Isolation and Characterization of Recessive Lethal Mutations Balanced by sDup3(III(left).C. elegans meeting, University of Wisconsin, Madison, June 1993 Abstract.

Howell, A. M., H. I. Stewart, H. A. Nethery and D. L. Baillie. 1992

Howell, A. M., H. I. Stewart, H. A. Nethery and D. L. Baillie. 1992.

Stewart, H.I., R.E. Rosenbluth and David L. Baillie.

Stewart, Helen I. R.E. Rosenbluth and David L. Baillie.

H. I. Stewart and D. L. Baillie.

Wakerchuck M. F., H. Stewart., and David L. Baillie.

Stewart, H.I., and D. L. Baillie. 1987. Ultra-violet mutagenesis in the nematode Caenerhabditis elegans. Cold Spring Harbor C. elegans meeting p.38. Abstract.

Juhlia Hilton
Phone:     (403 460-0023