Owning a cat can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes by more than a third.

Scientists said that having a cat helped to relieve stress and anxiety, which is known to help protect against heart disease by lowering blood pressure and reducing the heart rate.

The study looked at 4,435 adults aged between 30 and 75, about half of whom owned a cat.

The findings, presented at a stroke conference in America, showed that 3.4 per cent of the cat owners died from a heart attack over 10 years. Among the group who had never owned a cat the rate was 5.8 per cent.

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