A person who is stressed for any reason that is unconnected to cats, is going to find it harder to be a good cat caretaker. That is my assessment.
I am referring to a person who is stressed because of things such as difficulties with relationships, finance or work. These are the kinds of normal challenges that often go awry. In the UK, today’s biggest problem is the stretched home budget.
I know from personal experiences that when I am stressed I have less patience. I am more irritable. Feeling like that I am less likely to spend time with Charlie, my cat, or play with him or just chill out with him. I am chasing around too much to think about Charlie. I become more self-concerned; not good but human. At least I am aware of it and can therefore take corrective action.
One reason why retired people are more likely to be better car caretakers is because they should have less stress in their lives. That isn’t always the case but it is more likely. Plus they are around more.
A recent research paper from Princeton and New York Universities concludes that some mothers who have a specific gene variant become harsher towards their children during a recession (financial downturn) even if they are coping alright financially. The problem is uncertainty2. (note: I presume this is not a sex related gene variant – it affects men in the same way)
Fear or uncertainty about the future is difficult to deal with. The unknown and uncontrollable future creates anxiety and that in turn causes stress. This can lead to mothers who carry the gene variant to shout more at their children or smack them more during an economic downturn. These same mothers are also more likely to be positively affected when the economy is bouyant. They are also more likely to lower their standards of cat caretaking, I would argue.
The gene variant creates a personality trait. That is how I read this research. I am not sure you even need a certain personality trait to be affected by an uncertain future.
Stress nearly always comes down to a lack of control over one’s environment and life. Economic uncertainty has a profound effect on the life of a family. In the UK there are millions of families who live on the edge financially, with no savings. If interest rates go up they pay more in mortgage payments, which may be enough to tip the family over the edge towards having to sell the home or worse the home is repossessed by the bank (the lender or mortgagor).
What I am saying in a roundabout way is that there are many cats in homes who will also be feeling the effects of financially uncertainty, indirectly, from their human companions.
As is the case for having children, when deciding to care for a cat or cats people should always make sure they can commit to it for the life of the cat. It can cost something in the order of £10,000 to keep a cat over the cat’s lifetime inclusive of all expenses. In the UK, on average, it costs £222,458 to raise a child to aged 211.
- Times newspaper
- Picture by rick