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Not So Different as Cats and Dogs: Companionship during the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Shelly Volsche, Elizabeth Johnson

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COVID- 19 lockdown provided a unique, in situ opportunity to probe caretaker experiences of living with companion animals during a stressful event. We launched an online survey in the United States that included standard demographic questions, questions related to household structures, and 25 Likert scale questions that probed perceptions of whether and how respondents’ relationships changed during social isolation. This paper uses a subset of that data specific to dog and cat guardians. A principal components analysis and Mann-Whitney U test returned no significant differences between cat and dog guardians on three scales (Scale 1: Psychological Well-being, Scale 2: Bonding, and Scale 3: Companion Animal vs. Family). However, subtle differences emerged on specific items (e.g., “my pet is an extension of me”). We suggest guardian perceptions of species-specific needs and cognitive/emotional capacities may bias relationships with companion animals. Furthermore, we suggest these differences are the result of persistent cultural myths about the differences between cats and dogs.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2022
Publication Title People and Animals: The International Journal of Research and Practice
Volume 5
Issue 1
Pages 8
ISBN/ISSN 2575-9078
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Attachment
  3. Cats
  4. Covid-19
  5. Dogs
  6. Mammals
  7. open access
  8. Pet ownership
  9. Pets and companion animals
  10. social cognition
  1. open access