Cats and dogs have both been proven to be great for managing stress and offering support, but who is better? A new study dives into what animal might offer better support for highly emotional people.
Source: Relax My Cat – Relaxing Music for Cats/YouTube
The study, published in Anthrozöös, found that students who exhibit the Big Five emotionality traits are especially interested in cat visitations as opposed to ones with dogs. Dr. Patricia Pendry of Washington State University, co-author of the study, and human development professor, told Medical News Today.
“The idea behind the term ‘emotionality’ is that it is an indicator of the strength of people’s emotional response to a stimulus and how one reacts and behaves in response to that stimulus as a result. So, scoring high on the emotionality trait simply highlights that you are likely to react strongly to a feeling or experience.”
“While our study didn’t examine underlying mechanisms, we hypothesize that the trait of emotionality may reflect a state of mind that allows people to respond strongly — even passionately — to fairly subtle cues, which cats are known to display.”
For the study, researchers asked 1,438 respondents at 19 Flemish schools to complete a survey. Five were universities, and the rest were colleges. 905 students and 533 faculty, staff, or school employees participated.
They found that people with cat experiences had a greater decrease in their depression scores. According to the researchers, although dogs are great support animals, many people may prefer cats because of their size and simpler needs.
“This new study highlights the therapeutic potential of cat companionship for human well-being. More people could be reached with related benefits if cats were more widely incorporated into animal-assisted intervention programming, with species-specific guidelines modified for the needs and welfare of cats.”
While not everyone needs a support animal, their therapeutic benefits have been well-documented. Veterans, for example, are often in need of emotional support animals. Having a support animal by your side in certain situations can mean the difference between a panic attack and a normal day feeling in control.
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