The study, by researchers at the University of Minnesota, found that feline-less people were 30 to 40 percent more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than those with cats.
Yet dog owners had the same rate as non-owners. “No protective effect of dogs as domestic pets was observed,” said the study, presented Thursday at the International Stroke Conference in New Orleans.
Dr. Adnan Qureshi, a stroke expert at the university, said he decided to raise the question because other studies have suggested pets can help reduce stress. He and his team analyzed a group of 4,435 people who had answered questionnaires about pet ownership and other risk factors.
But the cat-dog differential came as a surprise. “We don’t understand this,” he said, but “it’s probably not a coincidence.”