OK, maybe I'm not imagining things. My friend's cat really is plotting to kill me. He gives me a look of disgust whenever I stop to visit. Despite that situation, I do like cats and continue to mourn the loss of Claude, a fluffy orange stray we took in when the kids were little.

Researchers at the University of Helsinki have identified seven personality traits of cats, one of which is aggression towards humans. I'll get to more on that study and list the other traits in a moment, but first I have some information to share about the potential health benefits of owning a cat and/or other pet.

In a newsletter, the National Institutes of Health notes their dedication to researching the health benefits of pet ownership, including how pets may benefit kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. And they mention how previous research shows pets may help your reduce stress and improve heart health.

In regards to cats, a study shows that owning a cat may reduce risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, especially if you're a woman over age 50. And another study shows cats may help reduce your risk of asthma.

I could list more studies, as there are quite a few. But now let's look at the seven newly identified personality traits of cats. The cat researchers wanted to identify the traits to help figure out behavioral problems and improve cat welfare. I believe that some of those traits are what make people love their kitties, and it's the connection to our animals that then provides us with the health benefits.

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Seven behavior and personality traits of cats:

  • Activity/playfulness
  • Fearfulness
  • Aggression towards humans
  • Sociability towards humans
  • Sociability towards cats
  • Litterbox issues
  • Excessive grooming

The study is published in the journal Animals.

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For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at vwilliams@newsmd.com. Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.