When a pet dies: another definition of broken heart

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

My cat Lily died in my arms last Monday evening. We were sitting around watching the hockey playoffs on TV, Lily curled up in her little wicker bed on the floor beside me. Suddenly, I heard an unusual, low-pitched “meeeooow” like I’d never heard before, a small cough, two deep sighs, and then nothing. The vet believes that “her heart just gave out” due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the most common form of heart disease in cats. Sometimes there are no signs and sudden death is the first, and last, hint of any problem. That trip to the vet was a blur. My daughter Larissa (that’s her on the left showing off Lily’s frog costume last Halloween) and my son-in-law Randy were right there with me.

Later, after a weepy final visit with my Lily in the vet’s office, we were back at home over rhubarb crisp and tea. They quietly removed Lily’s toys, food  and assorted cat stuff so I wouldn’t have to deal with them the next morning.

Let me tell you a little about my Lily. After my heart attack, I found out that owning a pet happens to be very good for heart patients.  In fact, being a cat owner could actually reduce your risk of another heart attack by nearly one-third, according to a 10-year study by researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Stroke Institute. And even having a purring cat on your lap can lower your blood pressure.

So off we headed to the local animal shelter, where we adopted the world’s cutest cat.  Continue reading “When a pet dies: another definition of broken heart”

Cats or dogs: which pet is better for your heart health?

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

I adopted my little Lily*, world’s cutest and most affectionate feline, three months after my heart attack. My daughter Larissa, who helped us pick out Lily at the shelter, gave me strict instructions about the kind of cat needed for cardiac recovery: a calm and snuggly lap cat (quite unlike the psycho-special needs-high-anxiety – yet adorable – Lucy who had been my last pet).

About 38% of Canadian households now include a cat like Lily, while 35% of us are dog owners.

But apparently, owning a cat may also reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by nearly one-third, researchers told delegates to the International Stroke Conference recently. Their study findings provoked a mixed reaction from heart experts and veterinarians.  And probably dog lovers, too.   Continue reading “Cats or dogs: which pet is better for your heart health?”