I love my cat. I love it when he comes on my lap and purrs, and it makes me feel good. I feel privileged to live with this kind and affectionate cat and I have always been convinced that having an animal certainly contributes to my happiness and my well-being. I wouldn’t live without an animal. Life would be far too boring! But is it really true? A recent Quebec study seems to show the opposite, at least in these times of a pandemic…
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Is the presence of pets beneficial for the humans who live with them? Does their presence have a positive effect on our general well-being? Several studies have looked at this question over time. Some studies have shown yes and others no.
Researchers from the Department of Psychology at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) wanted to see more clearly and looked into this relationship, but also, quite interestingly, the associated socio-demographic factors.
The study was conducted with a representative sample of nearly 2,500 people living in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic and was recently published in Scientific Reportsa journal published by Nature Publishing Group.
The findings reveal that pets can “be a burden” during the intense and chronic stressful time that is the current pandemic.
Indeed, pet owners reported lower psychological well-being compared to those without pets, for a majority of indicators of psychological well-being such as vitality, loneliness and life satisfaction.
One more responsibility
These results, a bit sad I must admit, suggest that it is better not to adopt an animal just to cheer yourself up or that of one of the family members! Yes, animals bring us joy and lots of little daily pleasures, but is that enough?
The researchers also explored socio-demographic factors (gender, age, income, employment status and place of residence, etc.) and found that among women, people with several children at home and unemployed people , owning a pet was associated with lower well-being.
Not surprising, knowing that at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, having a pet also represents for many women or mothers one more responsibility to manage, an addition to the mental load and, unfortunately, a worry. more financial, because, as we all know, having an animal ends up being expensive. Hopefully that won’t translate to pet abandonment once the pandemic is behind us.
Let’s end on a good note! Dog lovers, you will still be happy to learn that the dog is an exception: it is the only animal that is associated with higher psychological well-being in this study.
It is true that living with a dog forces us to do more physical activities, to go outside more often and even to socialize more on the street or in dog parks. So that could explain it.
Anyway, personally, I still love my nice gray cat who comes to purr on my lap every night and I wouldn’t trade him for all the gold in the world!