There’s no denying dog and cat owners will fiercely argue their pet provides them with the better company. But the research is in, and there’s a winner (during coronavirus times at least): dogs, not cats, make us feel less lonely.
In a study conducted by Monash University, researchers looked at 384 Australian participants and measured their levels of loneliness, mindfulness and mood while Australia was in stage three lockdowns.
It found that cat owners did not score well in mindfulness when compared to both dog owners and those without pets.
“Contrary to expectations, cat owners were found to be less mindful than non-owners and pet interactions did not account for levels of loneliness or levels of mindfulness,” the study results read.
“In line with our expectations, however, stress and depression positively predicted loneliness, while mindfulness and being a dog owner were protective against it.”
It suggest other factors — such as dog owners needing to leave the house for walks, or that dogs were generally more receptive to cuddling — could have contributed to the finding.
Interestingly, it also found cat owners noted a general mood improvement over a ‘greater sense of purpose, motivation and routine’, whereas dog owners recorded both these aspects more equally.
Obviously, it’s not a one-size-fits-all. As we all know, some dogs are more cuddly and needy than others, and the same goes with cats.
I grew up as a dog person but since moving to Sydney, I’ve had to adapt to being a cat person, given the limited apartment space. Perhaps due to a mixture of nature and a bit nurture, I adopted a cat with plenty of dog-like features.
He follows me around, always wants to sit on my lap or near me and loves playing fetch and tug of war with his plush toys. A catdog, if you will.
So if you can comfortably adopt a dog during the coronavirus pandemic, all power to you. My cat’s dumb antics have certainly kept me laughing through the tough year it’s been, so he scores alright in my books.