But what if some pets save lives not by dragging people from burning buildings, or managing to dial 911 without opposable thumbs, but simply by existing?
Researchers at Georgia Southern University recently took a close look at data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They found that in the case of women who’d died over the course of the survey, they were a lot less likely to have died of stroke if they were pet owners – in most cases, keepers of cats.
So, do cats do us good? Does feline companionship somehow protect the heart? Should cardiologists be telling their most critical patients to eat more greens, get more exercise and take in a few more stray kitties?
Unfortunately, the data is too limited to draw any definite conclusions about the benefits of cats to cardiovascular health. In other words, “Our study should not be interpreted to encourage more people to own pets,” senior author Jian Zhang cautioned the Thomson Reuters news agency.
It’s possible, for example, that cats don’t have any impact on cardiovascular health at all. It just may be, says Zhang, that the type of person who tends to own cats also tends to have a strong heart.
Well, that link makes complete sense to me.
So I guess we can’t say for sure, at this point, if cats are indeed cardio-protective. But there’s one takeaway, at least: You ought to stop making fun of cat ladies.
After all, they may outlive you.