Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cats Help Hearts

For years we've known that having a pet helps to lower blood pressure. Drs. Alan Beck and Aaron Katcher did that research long ago when both were in Pennsylvania. Now, along comes new research showing that cats can reduce your risk of having a heart attack. Yes, you read that correctly. The study report was announced recently at The American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference. The study lasted for ten years and included more than four thousand Americans which is pretty impressive. It was carried out by researchers in Minneapolis at the University of Minnesota's Stroke Institute. The Institute's Executive Director, Dr. Adnan Qureshi is the senior author of the study. Those participating in the study were between the ages of 30 and 75.

I look at my cat and realize that I didn't need a formal study to tell me this. But I do realize the importance of scientific data to back up what pet owners have known in our hearts to be true.

I acquired Aimee as an adult. She was a gift to my mother but I would be responsible for feeding, scooping the litterbox, etc. I saw the difference that sweet, gentle soul made in my mother's life.

I also see what she has done for me. Cats purr for a number of reasons and one of them is to calm themselves or others. When I have a migraine, her gentle purring helps to ease my breathing into rhythm with her purring. It's not a cure but it certainly helps.

More than just having a cat in the room (I don't know if that helps by itself since that wasn't part of the study), having my hands on Aimee is very calming. I have no problem understanding how cats relieve stress just as dogs relieve stress. They're different species but both are incredible companions.

Yes, we needed a formal study so the medical profession would take us seriously when we said that our cats and dogs make us feel better. For those willing to take on the responsibility of a pet for life, they may just have acquired a lifesaver.

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