There are some studies about the role of cats as emotional support for their owners. Two of the studies concerned 47 women and 45 men who lived alone with one or two cats, while the third study also included people who lived without cats.
The studies took place in Europe and the cats were at least six months-of-age. The participants completed questionnaires about their mood and their attachment to their cats. In addition, the cat owners were observed in the evening on one occasion.
It was found that overall cats had little effect on their owners’ moods. However, the presence of a cat was found to be associated with lowered negative moods of depression and fear. Therefore the cats did not increase positive moods. The more extrovert a cat owner felt, the more often their cat approached them.
I think these conclusions are not only incorrect but rather narrow. The presence of a domestic cat does far more than have an impact upon our negative moods.
For a start, there is the simple pleasure of the presence of a domestic cat as company, as a companion. There does not need to be any direct impact upon a person’s negative or positive moods.
Cat companionship is about not feeling lonely, taking responsibility for your cat, nurturing your cat and taking enjoyment from these pleasures. There are a whole host of subtle benefits in cat companionship which I don’t think can be reduced to a simple test of elevated mood.
There are other benefits. The Chief Executive Officer, Mr Suhaimi Rafdi, of a major Singapore company, Cathay Organisation Holdings says:
“My parents were animal lovers and there was not one day when there were no animals in our home….I believe that children who grow up with animals around them tend to be more compassionate and responsible adults”
Mr Rafdi is a sort of cat hoarder but an exceptional one. He is thoroughly organised and has converted his basement for the cats he rescues. It is very cat friendly. He cares for 27 cats; very rare for a high profile businessman.