A study of around 400 people living in lockdown by James Cook University has revealed a little about how pet ownership modifies loneliness and mental health.
So, we’ve decided to use this opportunity to make our own arguments in favour of dogs, cats … and bunnies aaaannd frogs, given that most of our editorial team is living though the third week of the Sydney lockdowns and some of us ( … particularly the extroverts) are going a little loopy.
Let’s report the science first though – what did the study reveal?
The research project, conducted by psychology lecturer Dr Jessica Oliva, found that pet interactions were not associated with higher mindfulness scores, or lower levels of loneliness. Huh.
But there were differences between cat and dog owners when it came to loneliness and mindfulness.
Both dog and cat owners said their pets gave them an excuse to talk aloud, which can help with concentration and performance on cognitive tasks. (And you don’t look at all crazy … Isn’t that right, Mittens?)
Dog owners said walking their pooches gave them a reason to exercise and socialise – both wholesome, mental health-promoting activities.
Cat owners were found to be less mindful than non-owners, which could just be a characteristic more commonly found in people who prefer cats.
(‘Cat people’ usually score higher on neuroticism than ‘dog people’, the press release said. Rude … )
The TMR team is split on whether it is better to have a dog or a cat in lockdown.
Judge for yourself …
And the winner is … Send story tips to firstname.lastname@example.org to find out! Or just send cute lockdown pet pics.