Everybody needs a hobby. Long time readers may be aware I feed feral cats. I used to do it every day until I moved… then I found a nice Israeli lady who took over my route on weekdays, but since she can’t make it on weekends, I still drive back out there every Saturday and Sunday. I used to have as many as 18, um, customers, scattered in about eight different feeding stations, but construction in the area, plus neutering, have dwindled the numbers down to four cats, who get fed in three different areas.
(The entire area is slated for construction – an outdoor mini-mall and condos. If/when it happens, I don’t know what will happen to the remaining cats. There aren’t places to relocate them and I’m in position to take in another.)
One of the three feeding stations is in a set of bushes behind a restaurant. This Saturday, the bushes were over-run with rats… a sign that the resident cat, a handsome black cat, was either dead or (much less likely) had moved on. Sunday, there were no rats. I knew immediately… another cat had moved in. So I left out a bit of kibble and waited and watched for a bit, and sure enough, a skinny orange cat crept out of the bushes. Later, I left him more kibble and a can – he clearly needs some meat on those bones. And I guess some time soon I have to make some calls to see if someone who still lives in the area will trap and neuter him.
But here’s my point… because of the restaurant’s waste, the entire area could easily be infested with rats. The presence of a single cat eliminates them all very quickly. The cost to the restaurant of making the environment amenable to a feral cat is very, very small.
Whether it’s a frisky kitten or a tubby tabby, a cat at home could cut your heart attack risk by almost a third, a new study suggests.
The finding, from a 10-year study of more than 4,300 Americans, suggests that the stress relief pets provide humans is heart-healthy.
And dog lovers shouldn’t feel left out: Although the study found no such benefit from “man’s best friend,” that’s probably because there simply weren’t enough dog owners in the study to draw firm conclusions, the researchers said.
“For years we have known that psychological stress and anxiety are related to cardiovascular events, particularly heart attacks,” noted study senior author Dr. Adnan Qureshi, executive director of the Minnesota Stroke Institute at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
According to Qureshi, the new research shows that “essentially there is a benefit in relieving those inciting factors from pets.”
He was slated to present the findings Thursday at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in New Orleans.
The stress-cardiovascular disease link is well-documented in scientific literature, and the affection and pleasure pets give humans is a known stress-buster. In fact, one study presented in 2005 at an American Heart Association meeting found that a single 12-minute visit with a dog improved the heart and lung function of people with heart failure.
Cat owners “appeared to have a lower rate of dying from heart attacks” over 10 years of follow-up compared to feline-free folk, Qureshi said.
The magnitude of the effect — a 30 percent reduction in heart attack risk — “was a little bit surprising,” he added. “We certainly expected an effect, because we thought that there was a biologically plausible mechanism at work. But the magnitude of the effect was hard to predict.”