A new study suggests cat owners are less likely to die of a heart attack or stroke than people who, well, don't own cats. And no, dogs don't...

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MINNEAPOLIS — A new study suggests cat owners are less likely to die of a heart attack or stroke than people who, well, don’t own cats.

And no, dogs don’t do the same trick.

The study, by researchers at the University of Minnesota, found that felineless people were 30 to 40 percent more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than those with cats.

Dog owners had the same rate as nonowners. “No protective effect of dogs as domestic pets was observed,” said the study, presented Thursday at the International Stroke Conference in New Orleans.

Dr. Adnan Qureshi, a stroke expert, said he decided to raise the question because other studies have suggested pets can help reduce stress. He and his team analyzed a group of 4,435 people who had answered questionnaires about pet ownership and other risk factors.

The cat-dog differential was a surprise.

“We don’t understand this completely,” but “it’s probably not a coincidence,” he said.

Asked if he owns a cat, Qureshi said: “No. Maybe I should get one, though. With this new research, I think the time has come to change.”