Kippax Veterinary Hospital Blog

In The Name Of Science, Here's Why You Should Spend More Time Cuddling Canberra’s Cats

Apr 4

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4/04/2016 10:11 AM  RssIcon

Turns out that petting and talking nicely with cats isn't just a pleasant way to spend the afternoon. There's now scientific proof that this kind of behaviour also helps keep the cats healthy.

For the study -- published in the journal Preventive Veterinary Medicine -- 96 shelter cats were divided into two groups. One group got positive interaction with the same person for 10 minutes at a time, four times a day, for 10 days. This interaction, which could include petting, brushing and playing among other agreeable things, is called "gentling."

The control group cats were treated to a researcher standing in front of their cage with eyes averted, for that same duration.

All 96 cats selected for the study had been deemed healthy and content -- as opposed to anxious or frustrated -- at the beginning of the study. At the end, the cats that got gentled were found to have maintained their content dispositions, and were less likely to have developed an upper respiratory disorder.

The control group cats were less content, and sicker.

Seventeen of 49 cats in the control group developed upper respiratory disorders, compared with nine of the 47 cats in the group treated to gentling.

The idea is that the cats' contentment stimulates production of an antibody, which helps fight upper respiratory disorders.