University cats? New study show they may be more useful on campus than dog visitations

Post secondary education is always stressful for students and in recent years, campuses have been organizing visits with dogs to help alleviate some of the pressure, especially during exam times.

Now a new study shows that cats may be another answer with survey results finding that students are also interested in relieving stress through feline time.

The study is published in Anthrozöös.

Dr. Patricia Pendry of Washington State University, co-author of the study, and human development professor said the field’s focus on examining the effects of dog visitation programs has resulted in a significant gap on whether cats may also provide benefits.

Cats may require less training than dogs to be campus de-stressors, according to the study. But the study authors say the first and foremost consideration should be on whether cats are suited to provide comfort.

“Their suitability in this context should be considered first and foremost, from an animal wellbeing/welfare perspective. Specifically, it is important to conduct rigorous temperament assessments by qualified professionals to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the animals involved.”

Cats’ needs and welfare are concerns that Dr. Dennis Turner, of the Institute for Applied Ethology and Animal Psychology in Switzerland:

“I must say that I am not at all in favor of a cat visitation program on a university or school campus as suggested here. This, as opposed to neighborhood cats, which themselves visit the university grounds.”

“The latest international trend, even for dog visitation programs, is to allow the animal ‘choice and consent’ in what it is to do. Even though a cat can be trained and habituated to transport in a box or walking on a leash, doubts remain about its choice and consent,” Dr. Turner noted.


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