Bad news for women who enjoy cat company: A new study, echoed in an article by The Independent, links cat ownership during pregnancy to an increased risk of postpartum depression. On the other hand, the opposite effect could occur if the pet happens to be a dog.
To understand the relationship between pet ownership and the mental health of pregnant women and new mothers, a research team led by Dr. Matsumura created a questionnaire to collect information on the demographic status and socioeconomic status of 80,000 women living in Japan. Between the beginning of their pregnancy and the first birthday of their child, these women were invited to respond five times to a survey questioning them about their medical and obstetrical history, their physical and mental health, or their lifestyle.
Secondly, the 80,000 respondents had to indicate whether they were in possession of a cat, a dog or both animals. Less than 9,000 of them said they lived with a dog, just over 4,000 with a cat and nearly 1,300 said they owned both species.
Findings published in the journal Social Science & Medicine suggest that the presence of a dog reduces symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety between the first and sixth month postpartum and leads to reduced stress at one year. after. On the other hand, owning a cat would promote the development of depressive symptoms six months after childbirth. “The type of pet you own plays a role in maintaining good mental health in mothers before and after giving birth”say the researchers.
dogs are not cats
The presence of a dog would even improve, unlike that of felines, our daily life considerably. His company promotes the reduction of the feeling of loneliness and anxiety, while increasing self-esteem. These strengths may be related to dogs’ ability to use human social cues. “The combination of these benefits may be responsible for the reduction in all-cause mortality among dog owners”add the authors of the study.
Previous studies had already shown that cat owners had lower self-esteem. However, researchers are still unable to explain the link between cats and postpartum depression: it remains a mystery. However, the results of this study are not to be underestimated. “Our results suggest that cat owners should be particularly concerned as they are at higher risk for mental health complications and toxoplasmosis,” concludes Dr. Matsumura.