By Jo Singer
Those of us who live with felines are already keenly aware of the health benefits we get from sharing our homes and hearts with companion cats. Backing up this statement is the fascinating results of the second scientific study made at the University of Minnesota Stroke Research center published in the “Journal of Vascular and Interventional Neurology” which is more than sufficient to convince any nay-Sayers about its veracity. In fact, this article will cause feline aficionados to purr loudly and wholeheartedly agree with the researcher’s findings in regard to the feline species; cats are contributing more to human health benefits than their canine counterparts.
For a long time research has demonstrated that the relationship between dogs and humans can promote better health by lowering our blood pressure and giving a boost to our brain’s chemical balance; opening us to the pleasurable and special relationship we have with canines. But based on a study of 4,435 people followed for ten years; the potential medical benefits of being owned by cats apparently are more helpful.
Thus far, research scientists have learned that, “People without cats, or who never had cats, had a 40 percent greater risk to die of a heart attack and a 30 percent greater risk to die of any cardiovascular related disease. The study showed no such protective benefits for dog owners.”
Dr. Adnan-Qureshi, the Executive Director and lead investigator of the Minneapolis, Minnesota based Stoke Center reported, “We know that stress and anxiety are factors leading to cardiac disease. If a pet can ameliorate stress and anxiety, clearly having a pet is beneficial. In the past, studies have considered dogs but never cats. This is only one study, but it’s a start.”
In the follow up study researchers discovered that living with a cat holds greater health benefits than living with a dog. A conclusion reached in this study was” A decreased risk for death due to Myocardial infarction and all cardiovascular diseases (including stroke) was observed among persons with cats.”
Although Dr. Qureshi was unable to explain why his study, (which unlike others), was not able to show any protective value in owning a dog; he said, “Perhaps petting a cat is even more helpful than we thought.” The mystery remains why folks are benefited by petting a dog. Perhaps it is from the tail wag response we receive, a canine feedback that is pleasurable to us which can be considered therapeutic. But dogs cannot give us that auditory pleasure we receive from felines – that very soothing sound – the purr”
The study explored the “intrinsic medical value not yet discovered.” Dr, Edward Creagan, past president and consultant in medical oncology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, himself the guardian of two cats said, “We never even considered studying benefits of cats as a part of the equation because they’re considered aloof, and takers and not givers. Of course, these misconceptions and biases aren’t true about cats.”
Felines purr not only to communicate contentment, they also self-sooth by purring when they are in pain or close to death. Is it possible then that humans respond to purring in a similar manner? In his study, Dr. Qureshi took that theory into consideration and remarked, “If cats are able to self-soothe through purring, maybe the purring soothes humans in some way we don’t understand.”
Since it appears that cats do genuinely contribute to our health and wellbeing; even preventing serious illness from occurring, you can bet your whiskers since cats carry no nasty side-effects and wear no medication warning labels, I will beg my doctor to write a note indicating that our cats are a health necessity. But I am not yet positive that my prescription drug plan will cover the cost.
What health benefits have you derived from being owned by a cat? Tell us in a comment. Naturally I will be using them as backup when I submit my claim.