By Stephanie Stahl

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Wednesday is International Cat Day and scientists say that there are a number of studies that highlight the health benefits of cats.

Cats can be good for you, unless you’re allergic. The CDC estimates 40-million households in the United States have pet cats and many of those are no doubt celebrating this International Cat Day.

Cat owners tend to be more introverted, but one study suggests they’re also more open-minded, sensitive and smarter than dog lovers. At least, they scored higher on intelligence tests.

Credit: CBS3.

Also, people who live with cats have fewer heart attacks. Researchers say while this could be because “cat people” are naturally calmer and better able to handle stress, researchers say it’s also possible that having a feline friend is soothing and reassuring, which contributes to protecting heart health.

Other research shows that children who grow up with cats are less likely to develop allergies and asthma.

Another health benefit? Stress reduction – a study found that petting cats releases oxytocin, a bonding hormone also known as a “cuddle chemical,” which can make you feel less stressed.

Many note that being with a purring cat is like a soothing massage as researchers say the frequency of the vibration in purring is in the range that can stimulate healing.

And lastly, there is a reason why cute cat videos are so addictive! Research has shown they can make people happier and help keep negative emotions at bay.

For dog lovers out there, there is an equal number of studies that show similar health benefits.

Stephanie Stahl