The Atlantic

Cats Are Not Medicine

Pets don’t actually make people healthier, according to a new analysis. Ability to own a pet does.
Source: AFP / Getty

Kids who grow up in homes with cats are much less likely to have behavioral issues than kids who grow up in homes without cats.

This is according to a divisive statistical analysis thrust upon the world this week by scientists at the RAND corporation. Pro-pet research findings like this have been piling up since the 1980s. The results have ranged from less heart disease among pet owners to better rates of survival after heart attacks to a reduced risk of asthma and allergic rhinitis among kids who had been exposed to pet allergens as infants.

Over the decades there has come to be a sort of implicit consensus that pet ownership had benefits for human health. That is, it seemed that these correlations weren’t coincidental. In a 2005 literature in the journal , a team of clinicians concluded it’s likely that “pet ownership itself is the primary cause of the reported benefits,” since “no studies have found significant social or economic differences between people who do or do not have pets that would adequately explain [these] differences in health.”

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

Related Interests

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic4 min read
Charli XCX Is Probably Not the Future of Pop, and That’s Okay
The songwriter’s cybernetic new album, Charli, is a complement to the mainstream, not an invasion of it.
The Atlantic3 min read
Daniel Johnston, the Folk Poet of Devil Town
While the songs of the influential musician, who died at 58, will endure, it’s hard to say that he was properly appreciated in his time.
The Atlantic8 min readPolitics
Hollywood’s Great Leap Backward on Free Expression
Beijing moves to co-opt the American film industry as it seeks to penetrate the world’s largest market.