Library Dissertation Showcase

Cat-human related activities associated with human well-being

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2021

There is a lack of consistent evidence relating to the mental health benefits of pet ownership, in particular cat ownership. Research in this field largely compares pet owners to non-owners with a lack of examination of individual cat-human relationships and the specific activities that relate to the owner’s well-being. This study on cat ownership follows on from a recent framework exploring the most important dog-human related activities and the influence on the owner’s well-being. Twenty individual cat owners were remotely interviewed, and the accompanying audio transcripts thematically analyzed. Matrix coding was performed using themes of cat-human activities and correlated well-being outcomes, reported by the owners. A total of 67 activities were described by cat owners connected to their hedonic and eudaimonic well-being, along with their life satisfaction. Some activities were associated with negative feelings such as veterinary visits increasing feelings of stress and decreasing owner’s self-esteem, however, the majority of activities were said to improve the owner’s well-being, for example, providing for the cat increased feelings of enjoyment, along with adding to the owner’s purpose in life. This study further highlights the importance of looking at specific activities associated with cat ownership that relate to positive and negative well-being outcomes and that different aspects of ownership effect different well-being outcomes. These results will be beneficial for future investigations researching potential animal assisted interventions relating to human well-being, by determining specific activities that may help to improve mental health.

Note: Written by Samantha Jayne Ravenscroft, with contributions by Ana Maria Barcelos and Daniel Simon Mills.

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