Monday, June 30, 2014


Last Monday, I mentioned that pets are good for your health. Did you know there’s a technical term for that?

It’s zooeiya.

You may have heard the term zoonosis used when discussing pets and illness.

 Zoonosis comes from the crashing together of two Greek words, “animal” (zoo) and “disease” (nosis). We’ve known for a long time there are diseases we can pick up from our pets, such as ringworm and rabies.

More recently, there’s been talk about the diseases that we can give our pets. It’s called reverse zoonosis, and it refers to such cases like the ones where our pets catch the flu from us.

Zooeiya is literally the opposite. Zooeiya is “animal” (zoo) “health” (eiya). Canadian veterinarian Dr. Kate Hodgson coined the term.

She spoke last month at BlogPaws on behalf of HABRI, the Human-Animal Bond Research Initiative. Some of what she shared with us is stuff you may already know, and that’s what I’ll share today.

Next Monday, we’ll talk about some of the things she mentioned that were unexpected – at least, to me.

The Stuff You May Know

Pets can help reduce
your blood pressure

Research gathered over more than 25 years has borne this out. And in fact, a 1995 study of 369 patients with heart disease showed that the ones with pets were 4 times more likely to be alive one year later.

Pets can help boost
your immune system

This is based on the scientific theory known as hormesis, which states that exposure to toxins in small amounts is beneficial. It’s basically the science behind allergy shots: introduce minute amounts of an allergen into the system to toughen it.

This goes hand in hand with the next observation, one that has done a full 180 in the past 30-40 years: Owning a pet as a child can help reduce the risk of developing allergies and asthma (see excerpt from WebMD at end of post).

The frequency at which
a cat’s purr resonates
has healing properties

Studies on the felid purr have shown that “domestic cats, servals, ocelots, and pumas produce fundamental, dominant, or strong frequencies at exactly 25 Hz and 50 Hz, the two low frequencies that best promote bone growth/fracture healing.” (see abstract from study at end of post.)

A waveform I captured of an actual domestic cat's purr

If you have ever suffered an injury that required physical therapy, you may have experienced human medicine’s mechanical analogue to this in the form of ultrasound therapy.

Honestly, the affection our three show us would be reason enough to have them in our lives. Increased health? Those are fringe benefits.

Next week: the benefits of pet ownership that I didn’t know about! 


Pet ownership, social support, and one-year survival after acute myocardial infarction in the Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial (CAST). National Institutes for Health, PubMed.
Excerpt: "Dog owners (n = 87, 1 died) are significantly less likely to die within 1 year than those who did not own dogs (n = 282, 19 died; p < 0.05)"

WebMD: Health Benefits of Pets
Excerpt: "A growing number of studies have suggested that kids growing up in a home with "furred animals" -- whether it's a pet cat or dog, or on a farm and exposed to large animals -- will have less risk of allergies and asthma."

Journal of the Acoustical Society of America: The felid purr: a healing mechanism?
Excerpt: "Purr frequencies correspond to vibrational/electrical frequencies used in treatment for bone growth/fractures, pain, edema, muscle growth/strain, joint flexibility, dyspnea, and wounds. Domestic cats, servals, ocelots, and pumas produce fundamental, dominant, or strong frequencies at exactly 25 Hz and 50 Hz, the two low frequencies that best promote bone growth/fracture healing [Chen etal., Zhong. Wai Ke Za Zhi. 32, 217–219 (1994)]. These four species have a strong harmonic exactly at, or within 2 Hz of 100 Hz, a frequency used therapeutically for pain, edema, wounds, and dyspnea."


  1. The human says Nicki tends to ELEVATE her blood pressure, with all that he gets into. :-D

  2. My dad-person say´s like Nicki´s human that me are elevating his blood pressure with the misscheif I get in to *mol*


  3. The male person does not believe these tales, but I do

  4. frankie here I'm what my mom calls a therapy cat for my boy because the evil step person hurt him. So I gives him lots of loves and kisses. So my mom knows it works

  5. Is THAT why I'm still alive?! Cool!!

  6. You did a great job of presenting this info from the BlogPaws Conference. Mom calls Calista Jo's purrs her white noise cause Calista Jo curls up next to her neck and purrs her to sleep every night. Mom wishes those purrs would have healed that scorpion sting faster. She was just released today by the vascular surgeon. Yippee! That should improve her mood. XO, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

  7. I wonder if mediation is somewhat akin to purring?

  8. Tutu makes sure Mommy starts her day with a huge dose of Tutupurrings!

  9. At least I can't catch neuroses from my human! Or can I???

  10. Have then done studies on the healing powers of cat spit?...

  11. Great summary of zooeiya. We hope that the term is eventually a well-accepted one and that the face that pets are good for your health is a well-accepted fact someday soon, too!

  12. Dr. Hodgson was so inspirational! I enjoyed her so much and what an incredible wealth of knowledge! My pets are definitely great for my health and do a fabulous job of keeping me sane! Haha!

  13. Thanks so much for sharing! I didn't know the terms but I do know how important pets are for health and well being. Nursing homes with animals have calmer, happier residents also.
    Marty's Mom

  14. Pawsum posty. Meez agwees and mommy sez dat animal/pets make da lives mowe fulfillin' just cuz wees be there. :)

    Luv ya'


  15. So this blood pressure thing. I understand that us cats have a positive and calming effect on our humans. But what about the effect Waffles has on ME???
    ; ) Katie


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