Health in older cat and dog owners: The Nord-Trondelag Health Study (HUNT)-3 study

Scand J Public Health. 2012 Dec;40(8):718-24. doi: 10.1177/1403494812465031.


Aim: The main objective was to compare older male and female cat, dog, and non-owners with regard to demographic and health-related characteristics.

Method: Data in the present cross-sectional population study were drawn from HUNT-3 in Norway. A total of 12,297 persons (5631 men; 6666 women) between the ages of 65 and 101 years were included, of whom 2358 were pet owners.

Results: The main finding was that owning a dog demonstrated several health-related characteristics to a higher positive degree than both non-pet and cat ownership among the participants. Cat owners showed higher body mass index values and higher systolic blood pressure, and reported worse general health status. They also exercised to a lower degree than the others.

Conclusions: As the result implies that older cat owners are negatively outstanding in many aspects of health compared with the dog owners, in the future, more focus must be put on the worse health of those. Further, there were more married male than female cat and dog owners. This probably depends on traditional cultural thinking; the man is the owner of the pet even if the woman lives with and cares about it. It is important to point out that different groups in the population might select different pets. Consequently, the findings showing a correlation between pet ownership and health may be owing to unrelated confounding factors.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cats*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diagnostic Self Evaluation
  • Dogs*
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marital Status / statistics & numerical data
  • Norway
  • Ownership / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pets*