Cat Owners May Be Less Likely to Suffer Cardiovascular Disease

CatIn a Minnesota study, cat owners had a decreased risk of death from heart attack or other cardiovascular diseases, including stroke. Researchers found no such correlation in those with a pet dog.

Researchers analyzed 4,435 participants, 30–75 years of age, from the second National Health and Nutrition Examination Study. All participants were free of cardiovascular disease at the start of the study. Researchers used the Cox proportional hazards analysis during 20 years of follow-up to determine relative risk of death from all causes, heart attack and cardiovascular diseases, including stroke.

Previous or current cat owners represented 55 percent (2,435) of the study participants. Researchers adjusted results for differences in age, gender, ethnicity/race, systolic blood pressure, cigarette smoking, diabetes, cholesterol levels and body mass index. They observed a 40 percent higher relative risk of death due to heart attack in participants who had never owned a cat as a pet compared to those who had previously or currently owned a cat.

Researchers also found a 30 percent higher relative risk of increased risk for death due to cardiovascular diseases among participants without cats. Researchers concluded, “cats as pets may represent a novel strategy for reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases in high-risk individuals.”

20 Responses to “Cat Owners May Be Less Likely to Suffer Cardiovascular Disease”

  1. Gindy says:

    And I have read the exact opposite here:
    Anyone can manipulate any number to mean anything they want.
    The government does it all the time.

  2. shibadiva says:

    I missed the part in the BBC study where it said the exact opposite.

  3. Radcliff, Allie, Luna, & Ozzie says:


  4. Nancy G. says:

    Crazy old cat ladies of the world, arise! So hacked up hairballs are a sign of health and we can wear our fur-covered clothes with pride.

  5. Sandi K says:

    I think they need to re-do that study now taking into consideration the pet food recall and all the stress and heartache associated with that.

  6. says:

    I hear you Sandi K, that was one heartache for sure. Regardless of what the numbers are I think intuitively we all know that there is something very soothing and relaxing that goes on between a pet and their owner.
    That is why we hear more and more pets being introduced to nursing homes. I wonder if blood pressure is also lower in pet owners?

  7. stefani says:

    So, if I have 4 cats, do I have 4 times the protection!? LOL. They are good for my heart no matter what the science says ;) Stefani

  8. mittens says:

    seeing how women are the primary cat owners in the nation and they in general run a lower rate of heart disease than men, it sort of skewers the results. these studies are usually bollocks anyway. you can always find another that says the opposite.

    that said there’s no doubt stress contributes to health problems and i can think of nothing more calming than the presence of a cat-having to sit still and pet a purring cat on your lap-if youre angry and agitated the cat won’t stay.i look at one of my sprawled out and napping cats and i want to curl up and sleep. cats are so able to zone out and it’s so easy to disturb them. since i got the 2 ferals i have become hyper aware of how easily they launch into flight because of a loud voice or too quick a movement. i am much more aware of how i present myself in the world and how it effects others. i’m so use to approaching potentially freaked out feral cats, i tend to calm myself and center before any stressful event. if you’re an admirer of cats and a respecter of their natures i think it forces you to assume a certain attitude to live with them happily. you don’t want to be all freaked and stressed out and harsh kitty’s mellow.

  9. Velvet's Dad says:

    Mittens, well said. Full agreement. Not only is petting a cat comforting to the human who is lucky enough to have the cat, but living with a cat forces one to be more mellow as cats, unlike dogs, are not meant to be controlled. That’s because cats are not pack animals; they don’t submit to a “leader.” That being said, cats–if treated well–respond well in their behavior. I could not imagine myself not living with a cat. Cats are intelligent, curious, self-reliant in many ways, affectionate and loyal.

  10. BTaylor322 says:

    Well, they do say: There are lies, damndable lies, and then there are statistics. I personally have absolutely nothing against cats, although I’ve never met one I could bond with. With most (but not all) dogs, bonding happens real fast. ALL beloved animals deserve love and respect.

    Both cats and dogs - and other species (horses, lamas - seriously, birds) have all served as “therapy animals”, so I’d say that they all have the potential to make us feel, and DO better - blood pressure included. They’ve measured that, too, BTW, despite what that “article” says.

    I personally think the article is silly, but for those who are “owned” by beloved cats, good for you, and God Bless.


  11. BTaylor322 says:

    A P.S. to Gindy! Many thanks for the link! YUP, it says the EXACT OPPOSITE. I’d heard about the beneficial effects of dog ownership (or ownership by dogs ), a long time ago. It’s that thing about “statistics” again.


  12. Don Earl says:

    RE: “Anyone can manipulate any number to mean anything they want.”

    Yes, there’s that.

    On the other hand, I recall reading many years ago that more heart attacks occur on Monday morning than at any other time. The implication being that after a relaxing weekend, the stress of the Monday morning grind is a factor.


    Personally, I find the happy buzzing noise cats make to be very relaxing. Cats project such a sense of contentment, peace and well being when they’re in buzzing mode that it’s hard to stay stressed about anything when they’re going about it.

    I don’t know why petting a happy dog wouldn’t provide a similar benefit, though.

    Wouldn’t a good study have a control group of people with no pets at all?

  13. mittens says:

    i do like dogs- we always had a springer spaniel growing up- but i think cats definitely have a different sort of energy ( not to get all new age-y about it…). i found that when cats really want physical affection like petting and neck ’scritchies’ they tend to become very calm and relaxed and evoke a similar response in the petter. dogs on the other hand largely have a propensity to get all wiggly/ excited/ happy when you scratch their heads and give them those love taps on the butt. nine out of ten times i find myself engaging in energetic romping and petting with a dog- and they clearly love it- but it ends up a more a play situation, more rough and tumble. when i play with my cats i dont really get to touch them because play for them is entirely centered on the prey response-when excited my cats don’t want petting. they want to chew the mouse and chase it and nip or scratch if my hand gets in the way. dogs bond over prey and are trained to aid humans in hunting. cats are solitary hunters, although they may share with you if they like you as anyone who has had a half dead mouse plopped into their beds.cats seem to bond more over one on one grooming behavior then the more giddy hunting-play/pack companionship of the dog.

  14. Chuck U. Farley says:

    “In a Minnesota study, cat owners had a decreased risk of death from heart attack or other cardiovascular diseases”

    …Unless you live with my 18lb. giant pain-in-the-arse half billy-goat and half cat Dude!

    Dude would have driven Mother Teresa to a heart attack!

    It’s OK, Duder…I still love you, you big doofus.

  15. Kaffe says:

    hmmmm… I WANT to beleive it… hee hee hee

  16. Highnote says:

    I feel that a dog or a cat that has a mild temperment is calming. I have a dog and a cat and both are very mild and very sweet and affectionate. I have been upset many times in my life and my dog seems to feel it with me and always comes and puts his head in my lap and it ends up calming me right away. My cat seems to want to sit in my lap knowing I am upset as well. I feel they both give me a calming affect and stress is the worse problem that tends to lead to heart attacks.
    I feel dogs and cats both are equally able to reduce stress in us all. They love us no matter what.

  17. Sharon says:

    I wish people would read the entire article and not just a synopsis before making their comments. The cat owners and former cat owners were compared to those who had never owned cats so don’t say there wasn’t a control group. Also, they did not say that the same effect was not true for dogs they said there were not enough dog owners in the sample to draw any conclusions about the effects of owning dogs but that they expected the results to be somewhat the same.

  18. Donna says:

    This is not a dog verses cat situation. I have dogs,cats and horses. The contact with nature and non-judgemental way of animals is very soothing. Just being involved with nature and her creatures destresses the human heart. The beauty of nature and away from so much noise is peaceful. Adding dogs, cats and horses……………creates a situation of beauty and peace. Many people “relax” in the presents of animals. Animals live for the moment and enjoy life as a gift. They do not have to be concerned with answering the phone or paying taxes. Any wonder,why they are at peace ? They make us of “part” of their world, a love with out terms. Happy to just exist. Pets, teach us many of lifes simple pleasures are priceless. For me. I love and relate to them all. Life with out animals,……….is just existance. We need contact with nature in order to survive. Pets make us better beings. Love to all creatures great and small. May they always find the homes that deserve them.

  19. Daibhi says:

    As a stroke survivor, I can attest that my blood pressure and other health is much better since getting 3 rescues! I am bi-polar and they seem to know when a manic spell is about to strike and tend to pay me even more attention. Companion animals, no matter the species are a boon, but to me, felines are first!!!

  20. Robert says:

    I do not believe this for a moment, here I am 42 years old, I have owned cats my whole life, AND presently own four cats, and needless to say, I have recently undergone a 4X bypass surgery.

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