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Spouses and cats and their effects on human mood

By D. C. Turner, G. Rieger, L. Gygax

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Previous data indicated that cats influence the moods of singly living people only by decreasing negative moods, while not affecting positive moods. In this study, it was investigated if such an effect could be replicated, was comparable to the effect of a human partner and related to the owner's attachment towards the cat. 212 couples with cats, 31 couples without cats, singly living people with cats (47 women and 45 men) and singly living people without cats (43 women and 9 men) volunteered to participate in this study. A list of adjectives (the EWL-Questionnaire) was used to assess their mood, which they responded to on an evening of their choice. The Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale (LAPS) was additionally completed by the cat owners. Selected adjectives were reduced by factor analyses and labelled as bad mood, activity, good mood and seclusion, according to the highest loadings of mood items within each factor. Each mood factor was explained by cat ownership, presence or absence of a partner and the person's sex. Furthermore, sex, partner status and attachment towards cats explained the moods among the cat owners. Only the partner, but not the cat, enhanced positive moods. Cats alleviated negative moods, and this effect was comparable to the effect of a human partner. This compensatory effect of cat ownership on negative moods was not comparable to a similar effect of degree of attachment towards the cat on human mood. Possible reasons for the unidirectional effect of cats on human mood were discussed.

Date 2003
Publication Title Anthrozoos
Volume 16
Issue 3
Pages 213-228
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
Language English
Author Address Institute for Applied Ethology and Animal Psychology, P.O. Box 32, CH-8816 Hirzel,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Activity
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Attitudes
  4. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  5. Cats
  6. Human behavior
  7. Mammals
  8. Marital status
  9. Mental health and well-being
  10. peer-reviewed
  11. Pets and companion animals
  12. Primates
  13. sex differences
  14. Social psychology and social anthropology
  15. surveys
  1. peer-reviewed