Cats are often pegged as independent, with non-cat people claiming they don’t like attention and that’s why they have dogs. However, a new study confirms what cat lovers have known all along – cats do need attention!
A new study conducted by animal research consultant Dr. Nadine Gourkow and Clive J.C. Phillips, a professor of animal welfare at the University of Queensland, took 96 shelter cats deemed healthy and content (as opposed to anxious or un-friendly) and split them into to groups:
- Positive interaction
The study was conducted over to days, with four, 10 minute sessions a day.
In the positive interaction group, cats were provided with human interaction in the form of petting, playing and grooming.
The control group was exposed to a researcher standing in front of their cage with eyes averted for the full ten minutes.
“Changes in emotional state and mucosal immune responses were measured daily in treated and control groups,” according to the article (www.researchgate.net).
What did they find? The research, published in the October 2015 Preventive Veterinary Medicine Journal found:
- The 47 cats in the positive interaction group retained their “content” dispositions.
- As for the 49 cats in the control group, they were not only “disgruntled,” having lost their “content” disposition, but they were less healthy as well.
- 17 of the 49 cats in the control group developed upper respiratory disorders, compared to just 9 in the positive interaction group.
Gourkow told The Huffington Post that she discovered a “strong association between positive emotions induced by gentling and good health.”
They believe that a cat in a content state, with positive stimulation, helps with the production of antibodies, which helps fight illness like upper respiratory disorders.
In other words, attention and positive treatment by humans means a happier, healthier kitty.
The pair plan on continuing their research – and are planning on looking at which gentling procedure(s) are most affective next.
As a side note, Philips believes this effect could be seen in other shelter animals, like dogs.
So spend some time with your kitty today, it just might save you a vet bill! And, maybe consider clicker training…
just imagine how healthy a positive reinforcement trained cat might be!
(H/T: Huffington Post)