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Cats Feel Your Pain, Lower Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, February 25, 2008 10:40 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Medical Devices, Strokes

Cat ownership lowers your risk of heart attack and stroke a new study finds.


Share your experiences with cats below!

Believe it or not, a controversial study says owning a cat can reduce your risk of heart attack and cardiovascular disease. Findings were released by the American Stroke Association meeting in New Orleans. 

The University of Minnesota’s Stroke Research Center studied 4,435 people between the ages of 30 and 75.

Those who have never owned a cat had a 40 percent greater risk of heart attack than cat owners. Additionally there was a 30 percent increase in death from cardiovascular diseases among non cat owners.

Dogs did not offer the same relief.

At the same time, owning a dog did not present a lower risk of heart attack.  A pet is believed to lower anxiety and offer stress-relief. Researchers say this study shows owning a pet is a lower-cost alternative to expensive medical intervention and its side effects and gives weight to alternative therapies. 

Beth Birnbaum tells ABC News that suffering from painful fibromyalgia, arthritis and degenerative disk disease has led her to many drugs, but the best therapy came from her adopted cat, Misty. 

"I can't really explain it, the feelings I have in those moments," Birnbaum said. "My pain didn't go away, but it was truly eased."

February is National Cat Health Month and statistics from the American Veterinary Medical Association just released show that Americans own 82 million cats versus 71 million dogs.

More cats end up unwanted in shelters and the AVMA survey shows only five percent are ever reclaimed compared to 15 to 30 percent of dogs. 

And Ally Cat Allies says there are likely as many abandoned, stray and feral cats as owned cats.

Why the stress- relief from cats? It might have something to do with the personality of cat owners as a more low-key type say scientists. Personality of cat owners was not taken into consideration.

ABC News reports some are even more cynical.

"If you believe this research, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you at a very good price," said Dr. Steve Nissen, chairman of the department of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic and immediate past president of the American College of Cardiology. #



Anonymous User
Posted by vicki
Monday, February 25, 2008 7:27 PM EST

The stress-relief from cats might also have to do with the effect of its purring.

Posted by Jeff
Monday, February 25, 2008 7:29 PM EST

I must be in the minority. My cat is the cutest thing, but he is so codependent that he drives me and my wife absolutely crazy. I think I am one of the few at a greater risk of a heart attack thanks to my cat ;) Regardless, I love him to death.

Anonymous User
Posted by Wendy
Monday, February 25, 2008 8:02 PM EST

Look at those numbers, "Americans own 82 million cats versus 71 million dogs." That's a lot of people who have pet cats. Can't it be accepted that, perhaps, it just so happens that some people with lower heart-disease risk also happen to be those people who own cats? Why does there have to be a link? Are scientists just trying to be the first to come up with new research discoveries that they get this desperate? Please tell me this wasn't a deliberate study.

Anonymous User
Posted by bob
Monday, February 25, 2008 8:03 PM EST

Prissy came to live with me 4 months ago and I feel more at peace than before she came into my life. She doesn't have the outward affection dogs show, but she gives lots in her own way. She is intelligent and has her own way of doing things. For instance, she will circle my chair twice before jumping into my lap, it is always two times, if I interrupt her, she circles twice again before jumping into my lap

Anonymous User
Posted by Bill Burt
Monday, February 25, 2008 8:06 PM EST

I sincerely believe that there is more to them than we've ever imagined. They have far too much impact on far too many divergent lives for there not to be something very real there. They are more than something live to hold and pet. These creatures come to know us in intricate and complex ways. They have a sense that I know I do not possess. They can't be discounted as "just animals". Not in a million years. They are more....some are noble....many are noble. Why is it so difficult that believe/thnk that they can have positive on our minds, hearts and bodies.

Anonymous User
Posted by bobby jones yogie
Monday, February 25, 2008 8:50 PM EST

i know my cat lays on me everytime i get under the weather.Seems likes he knows everytime im sick.i really belive he does.when ever myback or anything happens to me he is right there by my side

Anonymous User
Posted by jessica Dieckman
Monday, February 25, 2008 8:54 PM EST

There’s a rumour that cats have nine lives so when they are blessed with a good owner who treats them right they give a few of their live’s away

Anonymous User
Posted by jessica Dieckman
Monday, February 25, 2008 8:56 PM EST

Ask any Buddhist, cats are experts at meditation. I am sure they can help any one Zen out and prevent a heart attack or stroke.

Anonymous User
Posted by Kelly
Monday, February 25, 2008 9:20 PM EST

Anything that makes you calmer and happier reduces your risk of heart attack or stroke. If you like cats, if you laugh at their behavior or find comfort in their presence, you'll reduce your stress level. We all know stress contributes to heart disease, so it's common sense.

If you don't like cats, it's not going to work.

Anonymous User
Posted by Q
Monday, February 25, 2008 9:31 PM EST

Shame to Dr Steve Nissan. First of all, my cats don't require an appointment (well, most of the time!) Second, they never just 'threw a pill' at me.
Third, on more occasions than I can count they have taken care of me when I was sick or upset. I've been under extreme stress on and off for the past 3 years, and if it wasn't for my kitties I wouldn't be fit for human company. God Bless all the Kitties!

Anonymous User
Posted by SueInAtl
Monday, February 25, 2008 10:37 PM EST

I had a cat who awoke me twice, trying to raise my head up off the pillow. I checked things out and found that i had sleep apnea. I really do think he was trying to save my life because my breathing had stopped.

Anonymous User
Posted by jane Akre
Monday, February 25, 2008 10:52 PM EST

I always thought my late cat was psychic. I've had many dogs since but that cat was amazing. They are cleaner too ( and probably smarter...)

Anonymous User
Posted by LlTaWh
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 10:45 AM EST

I'm a 74 year old, still working, definite "Type A" personality, and my wife and I also are cat owners. Whether or not owning the Saimese does what the article describes, something is working!

Anonymous User
Posted by Mtngal
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 5:22 PM EST

My cats know when I don't feel well. When I had a severe sinus infection, I woke up to find all the cats on my bed lying aainst me and purring as hard as they could. I'm sure holding my cat lowers my stress.

Anonymous User
Posted by Mark
Wednesday, February 27, 2008 11:22 AM EST

Having purring, relaxing cats around you is a comforting feeling. I can feel my blood pressure slowing when I pet a purring cat, even if I'm in the middle of a day from hell. It's natural stress relief. I don't need a scientific study to pin down the value of this therapy to my mind and body. Plus, if I still have a stroke or heart attack, I won't blame my cats. They've done their job and I have benefitted from it.

Anonymous User
Posted by KinKStar
Wednesday, February 27, 2008 5:54 PM EST

I believe my cats surround me with love, especially whenever I feel a little more depressed or just don't feel like facing the day. When I wake up and see one or more of my cats in bed with me it's makes me feel better right away! I'd also like to say that the simple act of giving attention to another being helps to make me feel better too. Whether it's petting a cat or dog, or just acknowledging another human - stranger or friend, getting outside of myself, or my problems, releases it all, if only for a moment.

Anonymous User
Posted by stacey barnett
Saturday, March 01, 2008 11:48 PM EST

i cant have cat's my son is allergic to the dander plus im more of a dog lover

Comments for this article are closed.

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