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Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Behavioural Tendencies of Cats and Dogs in Japan

By Saho Takagi, Hikari Koyasu, Madoka Hattori, Takumi Nagasawa, Michiro Maejima, Miho Nagasawa, Takefumi Kikusui, Atsuko Saito

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Physical and mental effects stemming from COVID-19 have impacted not only people’s lives but also the lives of their pets, which in recent years are often seen as members of the family. This study aimed to explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan on pets and their owners. Participants reported changes in physical activity and mental health, as well as working conditions and frequency of interaction with pets, before and after behavioural restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We also asked about their pets’ behaviours using the Feline Behavioural Assessment and Research Questionnaire (Fe-BARQ) and the Canine Behavioural Assessment and Research Questionnaire (C-BARQ). This study showed that most cat and dog owners spent more time at home due to the COVID-19 behavioural restrictions and that the frequency of contact interaction with their pets increased. However, this study showed higher stress-related behaviours (e.g., cats: excessive grooming; dogs: aggression towards owners) among pets whose owners increased contact interaction. Furthermore, owners’ low mental health was correlated with high stress-related behaviours (e.g., touch sensitivity) in pets. The results of this study indicate that the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan may have affected not only the lives of owners but also the interaction between owners and their pets, and consequently their pets’ behaviours. Therefore, there is also concern that changes in lifestyle patterns caused by pandemics could form a negative feedback loop between the health status of both owners and their pets.

Publication Title Animals
Volume 13
Issue 13
Pages 2217
ISBN/ISSN 2076-2615
DOI 10.3390/ani13132217
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal welfare
  2. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  3. Cats
  4. Companion
  5. Covid-19
  6. Dogs
  7. Japan
  8. Mental health and well-being
  9. open access
  10. Pet ownership
  1. open access