Owning a cat or dog improves people’s health, according to decades of research. The major benefits include lower stress and better cardiovascular health (at least for dog walkers). Almost half the population in the US receives these benefits: 39% of households have at least one dog and 33% of households have at least one cat, reports US Pet Statistics, a site run by the Humane Society.
On O’ahu pet ownership is higher than the Mainland, with at least 60% of households owning a dog or cat (not counting the strays that people feed), says Jacque LeBlanc, community relations director at the Hawaii Humane Society. Survey data for the other islands is not currently available, but estimates suggest pet ownership rates are comparable.
Those of us lucky to live in Hawaii already expect longer, healthier lives than our Mainland counterparts by as much as three years. Compared to the rest of the world, Hawaii ranks fifth for longest life expectancy (averaging 80.8 years; it’s a coincidence that 808 is also our area code). Higher rates of pet ownership might contribute.