How Cats Can Improve Your Health

Go out and have some fun.

That was my advice on Tuesday. And since then, you’ve flooded our inbox with your favorite ways to have fun. One way to have fun we didn’t mention – and lots of folks have written in about – is having pets…

I have more actual laughter from the antics of my two rambunctious cats than any other source, wrestling, chasing, cleaning their buddy, and going goofy over various toys. Living alone at 87, they are indispensable companions.

Having two is imperative  Your thoughts were quite germane to a fulfilling life. – H.S.

Interacting with animals, particularly dogs and cats, stimulates neurotransmitters that make us feel happy and relaxed. That’s because petting a dog or a cat increases your levels of oxytocin. This hormone brings a lot of great health benefits, from pain reduction to lower blood pressure.

Staying active, social, and stress-free is crucial for not only our physical health, but for our mental health. But as we age, it gets harder to keep up with these things. We’ve written before about the importance of movement, even if it’s a simple walk every day. And we’ve talked about staying social and keeping your mind sharp to preserve your memory.

Pets are a great way to help with all of these things and are worth considering. If a dog or a cat is too much work, or if you’re allergic, try a fish, bird, or other animal.

Now, you may be wondering… what if I can’t (or don’t want to) have a pet?

One consideration for dogs and cats is safety from falls. If you’re worried about tripping over a pet, consider volunteering. There are hundreds of shelters and rescue groups looking for help. Even if you can’t keep a pet in your home, working with these organizations is a good way to interact with and help animals in need.

And you still get the benefits without ownership… One study from Cornwall College in the U.K. looked at both cat owners and folks who volunteered at a shelter with cats. Researchers saw drops in heart rate and blood pressure after just 10 minutes of interaction (owners had slightly larger drops).

Thanks to ongoing concerns about the pandemic, our stress is much higher than in the past. That’s why taking steps to control your stress is so important. And pets are a fun way to do just that.

Share photos of your pets on our Facebook page right here or e-mail them to [email protected].

Now let’s get into this week’s Q&A…

Q: I’m a recent subscriber and have already acquired a great deal of knowledge from Income Intelligence insights and recommendations. But I have benefited greatly from investing in closed-end funds (CEFs), mostly those sponsored by PIMCO. I appreciate your REIT recommendations, but I’m surprised that there has [been] no recommendations or discussion of CEFs. Is that intentional or do you really see no role for these instruments in your portfolio? – J.O.B.

A: For those unfamiliar, here’s how close-end funds (CEFs) work…

In general, a fund hires a portfolio manager to create a portfolio filled with investments (like energy stocks or municipal bonds). But first, to get the money to invest, the company holds a public offering, intending to sell a set number of shares. Investors buy shares of the fund, and the managers have the money from the purchase of those shares to invest. The managers take that money and buy securities according to their strategy. Once the fund is created, securities’ laws require the funds to assess the value of the portfolios’ holdings daily. That’s where something called the net asset value, or “NAV,” comes into play.

Now, here’s where things get interesting… The value of the CEF’s shares and the price of the shares can (and do) diverge. That’s because the shares trade openly on an exchange, so they are priced independently from the underlying value of the securities the fund holds. CEFs can trade below their NAV, at their NAV, or even above it.

When you see a CEF trading below its NAV, it’s one of the easiest ways to become a value investor. You don’t have to project future earnings or sales or price-to-earnings ratios on an individual stock or company. You can know unequivocally that you’re buying $1 of value for only, say, $0.90.

In Income Intelligence, we’re on the lookout for these opportunities. We’ve recommended various CEFs trading at a discount to their NAVs in the past, and it’s been a very profitable strategy. We haven’t found any that we’d want to buy today, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid CEFs.

Also in Income Intelligence, we regularly update subscribers on CEFs they should avoid… CEFs that are trading well in excess of their NAVs. For example, last month we highlighted a fund that traded at a premium of 980%… And that means people are paying $9.80 for only $1 worth of assets! These are funds you need to steer clear of.

For folks who aren’t already Income Intelligence subscribers, click here to learn more.

Q: In Health & Wealth Bulletin regarding use of avocado oil, you stated “And there’s a lone Indian study suggesting some avocado exposure might change the DNA in our lymph cells (yikes!).” Were you referring to exposure to avocados or avocado oil? I eat approximately one avocado every week.

I enjoy everything you publish. – F.B.

A: The study from India looked specifically at avocado extract, like what you’d find in avocado oil. The researchers didn’t look at whole, fresh avocados.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about avocados…

Avocados are loaded with nutrients like magnesium, vitamin B3, and monounsaturated fats (the healthy kind of fat).

But here’s a point lots of folks fail to consider: Calorie-dense foods also contribute to a sluggish feeling, whether those calories are from healthy fat or not. A single avocado packs 322 calories… If you mix avocados with a meal, that bumps up your calorie intake significantly.

I like to eat just a small portion of avocados several times a month. I like mine stirred up with chunked tomatoes, chopped onions, cilantro, a little kosher salt, and a squeeze of lime – guacamole, of course.

Similarly, if you’re only eating one a week, you’re doing fine.

What We’re Reading

Here’s to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
August 6, 2021