I love cats. I have had cats most of my life, until I got married. I sometimes joke that when I got married, it wasn't fair that I had to give my only daughter away, while my husband got to keep both his sons. The difference was that my daughter was feline, his sons are humanoid. I love my stepsons, but they don't sit in my lap and purr when I pet them.
An article in Answers.com states: 'Studies have shown that physical contact with a pet can lower high blood pressure, and improve survival rates for heart attack victims. There is also evidence that petting an animal can cause endorphins to be released. Endorphins are chemicals in the body that suppress the pain response. These are benefits that can be enjoyed from pet ownership, as well as from visiting therapeutic animals.' People who live alone can feel lonely and isolated, especially if they are ill. Having a pet not only gives them company, but also having someone to take care of and be responsible for can give them a reason to live.
Even without the support of these studies, I know that I cheer up at the mere sighting of a cat, and I will go out of my way for the chance to pet one. We are visiting my oldest stepson, whose roommate has a cat. This cat likes to be played with on her own terms, and will turn and bite when she has had enough or if you touch her wrong. For the most part, we get along well, and she comes running to me to be petted as much as I run to her to pet her.
When I pet a cat, I feel happy, calmer, and if they are purring, I feel like I am purring, too. I know there are people who prefer dogs to cats, I don't want to get into a discussion of which is better. Having a dog or a cat, or another animal can provide similar benefits, so chose whichever you prefer. The bottom line is, having a furry companion can help you feel better and live healthier. If you don't have one or want one of your own, borrow someone else's when you can.