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College cats? ‘Highly emotional’ students may benefit from felines on campus: study


According to a new study published in the journal Anthrozoös, “highly emotional” people may benefit from petting with cats as part of animal-assisted interventions on college campuses.

“Because most academic animal-assisted interventions (AAI) involve interactions with dogs, little is known about the feasibility of providing opportunities to interact with cats,” according to the article’s abstract. research, “University Cats? Predictors of Staff and Student Responsiveness to Campus Cat Visits. »

“AAI” refers to on-campus programs that provide college students with animals in order to help students feel less stressed.

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Cats can help relieve stress the same way petting a dog can be relaxing for some people, said authors Joni Delanoeije and Patricia Pendry.

Delanoeije is a psychologist and ethicist at the Belgian university KU Leuven; Pendry is a professor in the Department of Human Development at Washington State University.

More than 80% of AAI programs on college campuses were for dogs only, 5% had cats and dogs, and 10% had cats, dogs, and other animals.
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The pair interviewed more than 1,400 university students and staff from more than 20 universities for their article. The researchers found that several factors were involved in whether a person might benefit from petting a cat.

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People who are “very emotional”; those who are female; those who own cats themselves; and those open to interacting with a dog on campus were all positively associated with seeing a cat on campus.

Cats are prone to “anecdotal accounts” that would suggest they are unsuitable as therapy animals.

“Emotionality is a fairly stable trait; it does not fluctuate and is a fairly consistent feature of our personalities,” noted a press release about the study.

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“People at the top of this scale,” the statement also noted, “were significantly more interested in interacting with cats on campus.”

The research aimed to show that interventions with cats were feasible — and could help those who are averse to interacting with dogs for a variety of reasons, Pendry said in an email to Fox News Digital.

The newspaper shares information "on the factors that can shape our interest in interacting with cats."

The document shares information “about factors that can shape our interest in interacting with cats.”
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Pendry said she initially thought university students and staff wouldn’t be interested in playing with a cat – but her research proved that to be incorrect.

The document “gives us insight into factors that may shape our interest in interacting with cats,” she said.

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“For example, our work shows that it’s not so much the level of perceived stress that matters,” she added. “Instead, our work shows that aspects of a person’s personality, such as their level of emotionality or the intensity of their feelings in response to stimuli and their behavioral response, are important predictors of this interest. »

However, not all cats will be suitable for inclusion in AAIs.

“We should be very careful about what type of cat is best suited for this type of interaction,” she said.

While she initially thought university staff and students wouldn't be interested in playing with a cat, that was incorrect, said Pendry, one of the authors of a new study.

While she initially thought university staff and students wouldn’t be interested in playing with a cat, that was incorrect, said Pendry, one of the authors of a new study.
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Adding cats to existing AAIs with dogs created “significant positive effects on human emotion,” the researchers found.

They also determined that cats are underrepresented in all of these programs.

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They found that 86% of AAI programs on college campuses involved dogs only, 5% had both cats and dogs, and 10% had cats, dogs, and other animals.

Stereotypes may be partly responsible for why cats are not often included in AAIs.

“The welfare and safety of animals involved in any animal-assisted intervention should be of paramount importance. »

“The overrepresentation of dogs may reflect university administrators’ preference for providing affordable, safe and effective programs that are easy to implement and have reduced liability,” the study notes.

Examples of a negative narrative around cats include the idea that the animal "unpredictable behavior" can lead "injuries to people," notes the study.

Examples of negative narratives around cats include the idea that the animal’s “unpredictable behavior” can lead to “injury to people,” the study notes.
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Cats, on the other hand, are prone to “anecdotal accounts” that would suggest they are unsuitable as therapy animals.

“Examples of such accounts include the unpredictable behavior of cats resulting in injury to people, their fur being allergenic, and their intolerance of changing environments,” the newspaper said.

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“Such tales are unfortunate… Cats [can] have therapeutic effects on humans through their people-oriented behavior,” the paper also notes.

Dogs are perceived to be more trainable and sociable than other animals, according to this research.

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“We want to make sure that we only invite animals that enjoy these types of interactions and those that aren’t overwhelmed with the stress of being transported to and from campus or living in a busy campus environment,” Pendry said in his email to Fox. Digital News.

“The welfare and safety of animals involved in any animal-assisted intervention should be of paramount importance. »

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