Win for cat ladies: Felines lower risk of heart attacks

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Cat ladies rejoice: Your obsession with purring creatures may save your life. The Boston Globe looked at research linking pet owners (particularly people with cats) to one's ability to live a better life and avoid death by heart attack. No word if your cat-infested home makes further decreases the risk.

Sorry dog owners: your frou-frou pocket dog or hunting beast isn't going to prevent heart attacks like the kitties. And who can you blame for this cat-biased research? The University of Minnesota.

A study out of the U of M's Minnesota Stroke Initiative showed that cat owners aged 30 to 75 were 40 percent less likely to die from heart attacks compared to non-cat owners. Cat owners were also less likely to die from strokes, says neurologist Adnan Qureshi. This data even held out when risk factors were taken into account.

And you heard it right: Canines don't offer the same benefit.

How could this be? Personality types of dog and cat owners could be a factor:
Some suggest that a cat's unique and soothing purring may be the key. Others say it's a matter of the owner's personality, not the cat itself: Cat owners contend that "people who own cats tend to have easy going and accepting personalities because cats don't go by anyone's vision, they do what they want," Qureshi said. Dog owners, on the other hand, tend to be more controlling, and thus prone to unhealthy anxiety, the theory goes.

Qureshi, who is planning a follow-up study, said he's not quite ready to prescribe cat ownership for his stroke patients, but he's "getting there."

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