Beta

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Cat Ownership Correlated With Heart Health

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the correlation-is-not-causality dept.

Medicine 406

Ant tips us to a story making the rounds lately, based on reporting a couple of weeks old, that owning a cat could cut your heart attack risk by one third. No such effect was seen from dog ownership, but the researchers say that could be because there weren't enough dog owners in the study population to provide meaningful statistics. The study: "...analyzed data on 4,435 Americans, aged 30 to 75, who took part in the federal government's second National Health and Nutrition Examination Study, which ran from 1976-1980. According to the data in the survey, 2,435 of the participants either owned a cat or had owned a cat in the past, while the remaining 2,000 had never done so. [The] team then tracked rates of death from all causes, including heart and stroke. Cat owners 'appeared to have a lower rate of dying from heart attacks' over 10 years of follow-up compared to feline-free folk..."

cancel ×

406 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Cats vs Dogs flamewar on /.? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22699026)

Well... it's something new I guess....

(awaits inevitable corrections)

Obviously (5, Funny)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699028)

Obviously, they died of furball before they were old enough to have a heart attack.

Re:Obviously (4, Funny)

The_Jeff_79 (1253736) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699196)

Yeap, Hard to die of a Heart Attack when your smothered in your sleep

LOL (5, Funny)

16Chapel (998683) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699036)

I'm in ur aortas, reducing your stress

K thnx bai

Re:LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22699352)

What's clearly happening is that the cats are decreasing their owners fatty food intake, when they haz the cheezburgrs.

Global Warming Correlated with Pirate Number (2, Insightful)

netpixie (155816) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699038)

Re:Global Warming Correlated with Pirate Number (5, Informative)

Mutant321 (1112151) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699122)

The study doesn't make any assertions about a mechanism that might cause cats to have a direct influence on human health. It merely points out that there is a statistically significant correlation. This could be a bizarre coincidence, or it might be something that we had no idea about before. Either way, it's warrants further investigation.

Re:Global Warming Correlated with Pirate Number (4, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699200)

This could be a bizarre coincidence, or it might be something that we had no idea about before.
There have been previous studies that included dogs and other pets that have found similar correlations. The basic idea that many believe is the cause of such correlations is that having a loving pet helps to reduce stress, which, of course, has been proven to reduce the chance of heart attack and stroke.

So, IOW, anything you might do to relieve stress -- pet your cat (or other pet), exercise (good one with additional proven health and heart benefits), shoot your mother-in-law, etc, is good for your heart.

Re:Global Warming Correlated with Pirate Number (1)

mindwhip (894744) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699298)

OH! Can I be part of the shooting your mother-in-law to reduce your chance of a heart attack study? Or does the fact that I have a cat cancel out any health advantage I would gain from doing so? Or maybe that could be incorporated too... does shooting your mother-in-law AND owning a cat have cumulative effect?

Re:Global Warming Correlated with Pirate Number (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22699172)

Thanks for betraying your own ignorance about statistics while trying to show how you thought others were ignorant. You are aware of the serious academic discipline of statistics, aren't you? You are aware that the study went on for years and accounted for all sorts of other factors trying to isolate the effect that cat ownership had by itself, correct? Or do you just get a thrill out of being self-righteous?

Re:Global Warming Correlated with Pirate Number (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699378)

Regardless of what the moderators seem to think, your point is valid.

I always knew it!! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22699062)

Pussy is actually good for you, while having a bitch in your life makes no noticible improvements.

Correlation is not causation. (1, Insightful)

alext_uk (1159375) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699064)

Re:Correlation is not causation. (5, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699176)

Clearly this proves that people with heart problems choose not to buy cats.

MOD PARENT UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22699194)

This is exactly what I was thinking... too bad I am out of mod points.

Brilliant! (3, Interesting)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699406)

OMGawd, that's devastating.

"The following 5000 families who did not currently have a pet were given a cat. How many of them had heart attacks compared to the control sample?"

Then you can make a Reality Show out of it.

Re:Correlation is not causation. (4, Insightful)

fosterNutrition (953798) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699198)

How is that a troll? The parent points out the rather important fact that many, including (arguably) the summary, seem to miss: The study has shown a correlation between cat ownership and decreased risk of heart problems. That does not mean that cats are good for your heart, only that there is a connection. It could be something entirely different, like that (warning: the following hypothetical scenario is sourced right out of my arse) people who like cats tend to be calmer people who stress their hearts less.

Re:Correlation is not causation. (3, Insightful)

Skater (41976) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699366)

I see "correlated" in the title of the story, plus I see the word "could" in the summary. I do not see anywhere that the summary or title says that there is definite causation. Perhaps that's why the GP was modded Troll.

Re:Correlation is not causation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22699230)

No, it isn't necessarily. But until a statistically aberrant correlation is accounted for, and causation is unknown, the matter requires serious attention. You sophomores amuse me.

My cats (5, Funny)

foistboinder (99286) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699066)

They obviously have never seen our cats. Stress reducers? I don't think so.

Re:My cats (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699170)

They are. Even a siamese is a great stress reducer. I wish I could convince my wife to agree to be staff to a new house owner but as a member of "The Dog's party" she refuses to concede on this one

Re:My cats (5, Interesting)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699292)

They obviously have never seen our cats. Stress reducers? I don't think so.

You misunderstand the mechanism by which the protection is granted.

Endless years of kitty drama builds a general tolerance to drama in a person.

Then when the frustrating external event occurs that would have caused a normal person to blow a valve and die, you're emotionally prepared to roll your eyes, throw the instigator across the room and go back to your Sudoku.

Re:My cats (1)

Tranzistors (1180307) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699446)

Don't kids (the human type) have the same effect?

Re:My cats (0)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699374)

They obviously have never seen our cats. Stress reducers? I don't think so.

The study didn't say what caused the reduction in heart disease, and I agree that it probably isn't reduction in stress. My daughter's cat lives with me, and the damned thing is in heat and howled all night long last night. With that combined with the daylight savings time change I'm pretty damned tired right now.

I felt like killing the damned thing when it wouldn't shut up, but then my daughter would kill ME.

Also, if you can't afford new furniture you can't afford a cat. If you're looking to obtain one of these strange creatures, I wrote an article [kuro5hin.org] about the subject several years ago that you might find helpful.

Re:My cats (4, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699524)

Exactly, I have a 1 year old persian that is Evil Incarnate. The little bastard will happily sneak up on you in the middle of the night and then decide to crawl under the covers to steal heat. Then if you move that's the sign to play and you awake in a shriek of "WHAT HE HELL! STOP CLAWING ME!" and then it gives you the innocent kitty look so you dont throw it across the room.

This cat does a lot of other things that has me convinced it's trying to kill me. rushes down the stairs to get fed and then stops on the second step from the bottom so you almost trip and fall to your death for example. I am sure if it could figure out how to flush the toilet when I was in the shower it would be doing it.

I am 100% convinced that cats hate humans. I am certain that if my cat was scaled up to large dog size I would be eaten within 24 hours.

Re:My cats (2, Funny)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699544)

I am certain that if my cat was scaled up to large dog size I would be eaten within 24 hours.

In other news, people who keep lions or tigers are unlikely to die of heart attacks, because their pets can sense who in the herd is weak and sick.

I'm allergic to cat you insensitive clod! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22699072)

Even in BBQ sauce they still give me the hives.

This is one of those things that I love (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699076)

Anyone see that joke/story that shows speaking English is what kills you early? I think the causation link is a bit weak, even if they can't find define it so well here. Apparently having dogs doesn't have the same effect. Cats (well all animals) are known to carry certain virus types and germs. I'm thinking that is the real thing at issue here. I didn't see if kissing the cat had anything to do with the results either. There are so many things that could fall into play here. I hope they figure out how to bottle whatever it is, free or cheaply as owning a cat.

Better yet, I hope they figure out that cat's kill off something that otherwise leads to heart attack risks and that leads to even better preventative medicines. Meanwhile, I've got two cats and three dogs so I'm not sure where that leaves me for risk?

Re:This is one of those things that I love (2, Interesting)

MoonlightSeraphim (1253752) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699146)

I'd say it is a bit different and not germs or whatnot. I had a cat in the past. Its simply the way you are around with your pet. if you do not behave calm and always hyper and exited and you decided to pat it, the least you will get in return is your hands and arms scratched. Thus, if you want to spend some time hugging your cat without injuries, you will have to be calm (unless you are a masochist of course) And as for heart attacks. Well, those guys who had cats were definitely much calmer bunch and therefor they didn't stress out as much while reducing impact on their heart.

Re:This is one of those things that I love (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699264)

What you say is interesting, but dogs didn't seem to do the trick so it looks like there is more to it. If in fact you are right and it's just the stress release at work, there is hope for robotic pets to do the same thing once they are designed appropriately. It should also work with certain kinds of dogs too, as well as other pets. I still say the final verdict is still out on this.

Just another dose of bad science (1)

slashname3 (739398) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699450)

This is just another example of bad science. Someone either wanted these results and found them by either manufacturing them or ignoring data that did not correlate with the "expected" findings. At best they jumped to a conclusion while ignoring the actual cause of the effect, if there was one. Most likely they had a statistical blip due to the small group they sampled. Repeated studies with larger sample groups with control groups looking at non-cat owners and dog owners would probably show this is nonsense.

Sounds like bad science to me.

Re:This is one of those things that I love (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699416)

I think huffing them [uncyclopedia.org] is what causes the reduction in heart disease.

Re:This is one of those things that I love (1)

cbart387 (1192883) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699442)

Our family has a golden retriever and the same can be true for it. She'll get into this crazy fits and if you don't act calm it will end with
(a) the dog laying down tired -or-
(b) the dog biting at someone.

The same stuff happens with playing tug-of-war. I bet if they did a study on golden retriever owners they would find the same thing :)

Re:This is one of those things that I love (-1, Troll)

bvimo (780026) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699166)

>I didn't see if kissing the cat had anything to do with the results either.

I kiss my GF's pussy all the time, does that help?

Re:This is one of those things that I love (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22699342)

No, latex felines do not count.

Hmmm (4, Funny)

thedeadswiss (573599) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699080)

Does this mean that I can use my health insurance to pay for cat food?

Re:Hmmm (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699482)

Does this mean that I can use my health insurance to pay for cat food?

No. Why? Because people who sell insurance are stupid and evil.

Proof? Insurance covers fertility treatment, but it doesn't cover birth control. It covers cancer treatment, but not treatment for nicotine addiction.

The car insurance company is betting that you'll not wreck your car, while you're betting you will. The health insurance company is betting that you'll not get sick, and the life insurance company is betting you won't die.

-mcgrew

Re:Hmmm (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699484)

No, but if you live in the U.S. you may have to EAT cat food to afford health insurance.

Yes....but my ownership of a cat (1)

rimcrazy (146022) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699082)

....would seriously shorten the cat's life not to mention my allergies would kill me. Probably be a tossup as to who died first.

No (1)

Ripit (1001534) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699106)

you can not has cheezburger.

Reasons? (2, Insightful)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699108)

Anyone who owns a cat has had the groggy middle of the night lights-off walk to the kitchen to get a drink, only to step on their cat's tail and get that nice shot of a adrenaline pumping through their arteries. Maybe it strengthens their heart, or trains their reactions to not get so damned surprised by things that their heart could stop.

Then again if things like this happen often enough to have effect, maybe they just shouldn't have a cat :)

Pseudo-science (3, Insightful)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699110)

The story is about a common kind of mistake that shows how important it is to understand the scientific method. Someone does a study and finds that there is a statistical correlation between one phenomenon and another. Then there is a claim that one of the phenomena is the cause of the other. Actually, however, they can both be related to something else that is not understood.

Single people die earlier than married people. The reason does not appear to be that marriage prolongs life. Apparently those who have no strong ties to another person when they are 50 or older are likely to be alone because of some huge stress in their lives. It is the stress that kills, not being unmarried.

Re:Pseudo-science (1)

lhaeh (463179) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699258)

The irony is that a few stories down we see a piece on how bad science reporting is having negative effects on the public's perceptions of science. These "toast cures cancer" stories are not helping when one tries to defend science in speaking to intelligent design believers.

Re:Pseudo-science (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699334)

Problem with these medical studies is that your average med school student avoids "hard" classes like the plague because they'll reduce his/her sterling GPA. Those include, notably, any math class beyond calculus (like upper level stats) and your real Physical Chemistry classes, for instance. As a result you get these clowns putting out research like this, the "cell phones cause cancer" thing, etc.

Re:Pseudo-science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22699456)

Actually, however, they can both be related to something else that is not understood.

Indeed. For instance, crazy cat ladies are also frequently single, non-smoking vegetarians. The lack of STDs, tobacco and red meat could be the cause of this correlation. Correlation is only a place to start looking, not anything meaningful in itself.

Re:Pseudo-science (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699460)

I remember being taught the old "ice cream causes rape" example of spurious causation. When ice cream sales go up, so do rape numbers > Therefore ice cream causes people to rape. Of course, the real answer is that both go up in the summer.

Re:Pseudo-science (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699508)

Also, the study group excludes all those cat owners (and non cat owners) who have already died from heart attacks; in particular, those who have done so before 30.

Re:Pseudo-science (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699530)

You're committing the same fallacy. The truth is that there's a correlation, but the causitive factors haven't been determined.

As a divorced man, I think the reason single people die earlier is because there's nobody there to call 911. But that's just a hypothesis, not even a theory, let along proof.

Agree (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699578)

This is especially true about "life style" indicators. People owning cats are likely to have other life-style factors in common, some of which will affect health.

but (-1, Flamebait)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699114)

but how many babies do they kill by shitting in other peoples gardens, and just think of the stress that causes. Owners may live longer but the other people who have to put with the cats are looking for an early grave.

Re:but (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699136)

I'm using a speech synthesizer here; isn't that what the article is saying:

that owning a cat could cut your heart attack risk by one turd.

Re:but (1)

PhoenixFlare (319467) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699244)

And some of us cat owners want everybody to live longer, so we keep our felines safely inside. If they really are "shitting in other peoples gardens", can't you call your local animal control or grab them and find their owner's info on a collar or something? I'm betting the misguided sense that the cats are somehow missing something by being kept inside would fade away pretty quickly after that.

Re:but (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699358)

but how many babies do they kill by shitting in other peoples gardens
None, or nearly none.
You could, you know, teach your children not to eat cat shit. Or you could just let them develop an immune system. It's not my fault that you're a helicopter parent who brought your child up in an oversterilised environment so now they have to live in a plastic bubble.

Re:but (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699426)

it's not the children eating cat shit it's pregnant mothers getting it on their hands which is the problem

Re:but (1)

bestinshow (985111) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699580)

I know that pregnancy can cause some weird dietary desires, but c'mon!

Also haven't these people heard of washing your hands after doing something dirty?

Re:but (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699436)

You could, you know, teach your children not to eat cat shit. Or you could just let them develop an immune system.

I don't think you're familiar with the term "cogenital toxoplasmosis".

It's not my fault that you're a helicopter parent who brought your child up in an oversterilised environment so now they have to live in a plastic bubble.

But thanks for showing that you're totally clueless. Now go and educate yourself, unless you want to embarass yourself in the future.

Could be a wonky correlation, like... (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699118)

...those who have cats arguably are NOT allergic to cat fur. So perhaps the same population is less likely to suffer from some form of heart disease.

Re:Could be a wonky correlation, like... (1)

grrrl (110084) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699278)

my allergies are 10000 times better since I got a cat!!

meow! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22699120)

Cats rock!

Lies, Damn Lies And Statistics (2, Insightful)

blcamp (211756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699124)


I like cats, and my family has had pet cats in the past, but I just can't give this "survey" very much legitimacy.

I could find a similar "survey audience" of beer drinkers, sex addicts, computer geeks (never mind, I'm already here!), root canal patients, or ANY group, and come up with whatever "favorable result" I want.

Just my opinion and observation, but it seems to me more like an agenda piece than an honest scientific exercise.

Re:Lies, Damn Lies And Statistics (1)

Freexe (717562) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699440)

There are theories as to why cats extend life more than dogs/other groups. One is that when they purr, the vibration is good for you (http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2001/ast02nov_1.htm). Another one is that they relax you more than other animals (they come and sit on your lap, don't take much effort to look after) and stress has been linked to dieing younger.

Either way, cats live a long time for their size, they must be doing something right.

Makes Sense (1, Flamebait)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699150)

Cats are intelligent, interesting beings and they make you feel good. Dogs are dumb, slobbering beasts that make you take them outside to take a shit. I find on the surface that this makes complete and total intuitive sense.

Cats Rock

Dogs Suck

Re:Makes Sense (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699184)

Cats are intelligent, interesting beings and they make you feel good.

As long as you don't mind a pet that thinks you're an overblown can-opener, sure.

Re:Makes Sense (5, Funny)

Tinfoil (109794) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699212)

Dogs are dumb, slobbering beasts that make you take them outside to take a shit.

Rather than shitting in (hopefully) a single location and forcing you to clean it up on a near daily basis lest it offend their senses and they decide the clean, but unfolded, laundry would be a better target?

I do have cats, and I tend to think I would rather have cats than dogs. Besides, that is what I have a human spawn for.

Puppies/Human Larvae are cute.
One must be ever vigilant to protect your property from puppies/spawn
One must clean up the little.... treats left behind.
Neither listen well to verbal commands
Neither will shovel the drive or mow the lawn

Clearly children are nothing more than hairless dogs that have developed the ability to walk upright.

Re:Makes Sense (0, Flamebait)

vikstar (615372) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699270)

LOL, cats intelligent and dogs dumb? Cats crawl around scratching your blinds and carpet, and walk all over and sleep whatever they want. You can train a dog, but cats are too dumb to respond to any useful training other than knowing where its cat bowl is. When was the last time you saw a cat walking in the park next to its master, or rounding up a heard of sheep, or allowing blind people to safely cross the road, or sniffing drugs out at an airport? etc.

Cats Suck

Dogs Rock

Re:Makes Sense (1)

TummyX (84871) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699348)


You can train a dog, but cats are too dumb to respond to any useful training other than knowing where its cat bowl is.


So a dog follows authority blindly whereas a cat will do whatever it feels like doing and still gets its way. Who's the smarter one?

Re:Makes Sense (1)

zehaeva (1136559) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699402)

I play fetch with my cats all the time, I am debating as to if i want to train them to flush the toilet when they go the bath room, the whole hearing the toilet go off at 4am doesn't sound too appealing to me

Re:Makes Sense (4, Insightful)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699466)

Perhaps. But, when you are swept away by a raging flood, your dog will try to save you; your cat will watch you drown and go looking for a new meal-ticket!

Reminds me of something (2, Funny)

Espectr0 (577637) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699158)

I don't remember the exact words. If anyone remembers better, please post.

Catbert, evil director of human resources.

Catbert: Did you know that petting a cat results in lower blood pressure?

(employee begins to rub catbert's tummy)

Catbert: HA HA, IT'S A HEALTH BENEFIT! NOW I WILL CUT DOWN EVERYONE'S SALARY!!!

Sigh... (3, Insightful)

Xelios (822510) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699162)

Maybe it's just me, but these "Study finds x could decrease your risk of y by z%" news stories seem to be getting a little out of hand. "The team tracked the death rates for all causes and (surprise!) found some correlation in the statistics". What's next? Study finds people who paint their walls white decrease their risk of brain cancer by 20%? Seems like they'll publish anything just to publish something.

I mean, if this is all it takes to have a career in research then maybe I picked the wrong field. I'd be happy to run some statistics through a data miner for a university salery and grant money.

Sure as heck does dog ownership ... (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699168)

... reduce the risk of heart disease. Especially if you take your dog on five-mile walks each day (and yes, that means that you walk/bike too).

It's the old lady effect! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22699188)

Women are more likely to own cats, and women are also much less likely to have a heart attack.

Not rocket science.

Hmm? (3, Funny)

Canosoup (1153521) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699206)

Does this include looking at hundreds of Lolcat pictures a day?

Lies, damn lies... (1)

Da Fokka (94074) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699214)

I bet all the money in my pocket (admittedly not a lot) that this finding is a result of an overzealous data analysis.

The basic idea behind using statistical methods to test hypotheses is to compute the chance that the resulting data is oriented the way is is by coincidence. If this chance is exceedingly small, the variance in the data can't be explained by coincidence and must be due to some systematic effect. Depending on the type of research, probabilities between 5% and .01% are considered low and statistically significant. So basically, a hypothesis is accepted if the chance that it's false (this type of error is called a Type 1 error) is pretty small.

However, thanks to the advent of statistical data packages like SPSS, it's easy to check large numbers of variables. If there are tens or even hundreds of dependent variables in a study, all of these can be checked against the dependent variable (in this case, incidence of heart disease) with the push of the button. But the chance that at least one of these checks yields a false positive is pretty large. If the tests are performed at a 1% significance level for 50 variables, the chance is about 40%!

Unfortunately, there is no link to the actual paper. But if pet ownership is one of the variables included, chances are there were many variables that were included in the study.

PU... (1)

LaTechTech (752269) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699234)

All you guys with cats! YOU'RE ALL A BUNCH OF PU...*gasp*(grabs chest)...(THUMP)...

causality? (1)

mehlkelm (980439) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699266)

Since this was only a correlational study and no experiment, we don't know anything about the direction of causality. maybe the genes for liking cats and having a healthy heart are coupled. or not dying of a heart attack makes you like cats. or whatever. cats rule.

Beneficial side-effect of toxoplasma? (3, Interesting)

gregor-e (136142) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699276)

Cats are notorious as reservoirs of Toxoplasma gondii [wikipedia.org] , a parasitic protozoa that infects an estimated one-third of the world's population. This parasite causes behaviorial changes in rats that are infected, damping their fear response to the odor of cats, making Toxoplasma less a parasite for the cat and more of a synergist. In humans, Toxoplasma are thought to influence behavior enough that varying infection rates between cultures is thought to explain cultural differences of character. Perhaps they also have a beneficial side-effect on cardiovascular health, explaining the correlation between cat ownership and this observation?

Correlation... (1)

sleeping123 (1109587) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699280)

Gentlemen, start your Correlation != Causality engines!

Re:Correlation... (1)

Knutsi (959723) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699422)

Well said sleeping123. Like always when reading such studies, or at least before jumping to conclusions, read through this page [wikipedia.org] .

It kind of reminds me of a ski-race my dad does every year. It goes over 90 km in the Swedish wilderness, and is extremely exhausting. Now, an article in a magazine he receives once stated that "people doing Vasalöppet (the race) are more healthy than others". When I asked him whether he thought the race wasn't getting unhealthy for him, as an old man, he quoted the article, claiming the race must be good for him.

It may or may not be that the race is healthy for him, but in my view, the article simply says "healthy people run this race", which is pretty obvious when you see the lack of 150kg+ people skiing 90km in a few hours (:

They must share one of those nine lives (1)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699294)

This is a perfect example of Slashdot. The top story is about how owning a cat lowers your risk of a heart attack and stroke, with a comment that correlation does not imply causation, and three stories down is a piece about bad science journalism. =-)

Re:They must share one of those nine lives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22699380)

Followed up with the obligatory bitchy comment by a user who obviously has been around a while, and keeps coming back for some reason despite the high horse syndrome.

more precisely (1)

Magnificent(*void) (827452) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699310)

I wonder if cats have a reduced risk of heart disease from owning humans?

I'd believe it (1)

grrrl (110084) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699314)

I'm much more relaxed (less stressed with lower blood pressure) since I got a kitty kat. Having a cat simply puts things in perspective sometimes, and the contact and love you get from them is wonderful. And they are hilarious!

It's not necessarily a direct link to longer life, but most things aren't. Lead a relaxed loving life and at least you'll have enjoyed it, even if you do cark it early and your cat can't save you.

Ownership?? (3, Funny)

Nonillion (266505) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699338)

You mean Guardianship. Humans need to discard the notion that "animals" are nothing more than property. You don't own an animal anymore than you would own your children. They have personalities, wants and needs just like us humans. I have three cats, they are family members, not some inanimate objects that act like they're alive.

Re:Ownership?? (3, Funny)

yivi (236776) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699438)

And yet you say "I have three cats", and not "three cats live with me" or something of the sort.

If you are going to be ridiculously politically correct, please go all the way.

Thanks and regards.

I.-

Re:Ownership?? (0, Flamebait)

Tranzistors (1180307) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699476)

Where are you from? Europe?

Re:Ownership?? (0, Troll)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699486)

I can't agree with you. If my dog runs away, and I can't find him, and I didn't really like him anyway, meh... who cares. Also, if dog won't quit farting and has a bad cough, for a pittance, I can send that bugger to a wormy grave. Now, imagine doing these with a little girl...

Re:Ownership?? (2, Informative)

Corf (145778) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699576)

Sure would be swell, wouldn't it? Except that legally, in the US, humans DO own pets... so the terminology becomes more practical. Here's the AKC's take on the subject. [akc.org] They support use of the word "owner." Pets do have financial as well as emotional value, and terminology must reflect that to effectively preserve both. Summed up at the bottom of the page:

The AKC believes that the term guardian may in fact reduce the legal status and value of dogs as property and thereby restrict the rights of owners, veterinarians, and government agencies to protect and care for dogs.

I can believe it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22699364)

When I found out that my fiancee was cheating on me, and decided to break our engagement, the cat sensed it. She has increased her cuteness level by 100% and when I couldn't sleep at night, the cat cuddled up to me and started purring. And when my ex-fiancee tried to pet her, she clawed at her and ran away. Needless to say, that made me feel extremely good.

Better not tell the Chinese! (1)

ComradeF (646504) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699370)

That's good to hear, especially in the face of this tragedy: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/worldnews.html?in_article_id=528694&in_page_id=1811 [dailymail.co.uk] "The situation is very bad now," said Ms Hu. "When women get pregnant, the doctor will ask them if they have a cat in the house. If they reply Yes, they tell them, 'You must get rid of it, it will be bad for the baby'."

Correlation, causation, and cargo cults (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22699392)

owning a cat could cut your heart attack risk by one third.

No such thing is being claimed. It appears that if you own a cat, your risk for a heart attack is significantly lower, but nowhere does it say that this is BECAUSE you own a cat. Correlation does not imply causation.

Consider this: it has also been shown that the sales figures for strawberry icecream correlate with the violent crime rate; when people eat more strawberry icecream, they're also more likely to be violent, and - similarly - when they eat less of it, they're less likely to be violent. Does this mean that strawberry icecream makes people violent?

Of course not. However, there's an underlying common cause: heat. People eat more icecream (both strawberry icecream and icecream in general) when it's hotter; and they're also more aggressive and prone to violent crime when it's hotter. But the icecream doesn't cause violence - it merely also happens to be consumed more often when people are more violent due to the heat.

So correlation does not equal or even imply causation. And this is important to keep in mind: the fact that you own a cat *may* mean you're less likely to have a heart attack (due to other underlying factors), but - for example - you cannot lower your heart attack risk by buying a cat. Doing so would just be a form of cargo-culting; the only thing it'd do is show that you don't understand basic logic. (But I guess if you're buying a cat, that goes without saying, anyway. :))

Correct title, misleading text in body. (1)

k2backhoe (1092067) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699470)

The title is right, cat ownership is correlated with the lower heart attack rate in this study. So far so good. But the text inside states "that owning a cat could cut your heart attack risk by one third". Please, Slashdotters are better than this. This sentence implies that ownership causes the lower heart attack rate. This is NOT established. Some of the worst statistics occur in medical studies. If we take a group of 10,000 people and test them for 100 different characteristics, there is very likely to be two characteristics that correlate with 99% certainty. DUH!! That doesn't mean one implies the other. They may both be caused by a third factor, like bad teeth don't cause liver damage, but there are high rates of both in poor people. Or they could be randomly correlated in this test population, but will not show similar correlation in a different study.

Yes, we know (2, Funny)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699474)

It came up eleven days ago [slashdot.org] .


Besides, as one of the posters to my journal already noted, cats age people like people age wine and cheese.

Umm... (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699504)

Wasn't someplace saying the exact opposite about a year ago? (dogs have more benefit than cats)

I don't know where the article is, but I swear I remember it, maybe even posted here on /.

Not Worth It (2, Funny)

Kristopher Johnson (129906) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699540)

Given a choice between an early death or living with a cat, I'll take death.

Cool Heart Icon (1)

MECC (8478) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699552)

It needs more blood, though.

News? (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 6 years ago | (#22699568)

I don't know if it's a natural side effect of getting older but this is yet another 'discovery' that I remember reading about years ago. It's getting quite scary how often there seem to be reports of amazing new discoveries which are actually quite well known and understood things but apparantly forgotten by some.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?
or Connect with...

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>