The most common reason to keep a pet is for companionship, so this benefit won’t come as a surprise to anyone. People who don’t have a cat in their lives often believe that cats are unsocial, distant pets. If you’ve ever been the recipient of an affectionate head-bunt from a friendly kitty, you know that the “unsocial” myth is indeed a myth. Cats are not the solitary animals that they had been believed to be.
Cats might not need much exercise, compared to dogs and rabbits, but they do like to play with their human companions. Tossing a toy mouse around the living room can get you moving a bit, too.
People sometimes accuse their friends of turning their pet into a substitute child. By replacing a child or younger sibling as “something to nurture”, a pet often does serve that need. In today’s smaller families, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Everybody needs somebody to love, furry or otherwise.
It might be noticed more with dogs, but children who grow up with cats appear to have more practice with considering what other people are thinking and feeling. This experience of empathy helps children learn to relate to other people, and to consider their actions in light of how those actions will affect others.