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Crazy cat lady stereotype ‘not supported by evidence’

The research comparing cat owners, dog owners and those with no pets was carried out at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Cat owners are not disproportionately depressed, anxious or alone, new research suggests (Nick Ansell/PA)
Cat owners are not disproportionately depressed, anxious or alone, new research suggests (Nick Ansell/PA)

By Tom Horton, PA

There is no evidence to support the crazy cat lady stereotype that owners of the pets are disproportionately depressed, anxious or alone, according to new research.

Academics found that those who own felines did not report suffering adverse mental or social problems any more than those with dogs or no pets at all.

This is despite the fact that “cats and cat owners are regularly ascribed negative personality traits”, according to the study, which was carried out at the University of California, Los Angeles and published by the Royal Society.

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Cats and cat owners are often labelled with negative personality traits, according to the research (Liam McBurney/PA)

It adds: “We found no evidence to support the ‘cat lady’ stereotype: cat owners did not differ from others on self-reported symptoms of depression, anxiety, or their experiences in close relationships.

“Our findings, therefore, do not fit with the notion of cat owners as more depressed, anxious and alone.”

Such stigma is not attached to dog ownership, according to the research.

Having a canine is “often viewed as healthy” and “beneficial in motivating owners to get extra physical activity”, it states.

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The study states that dog ownership is often viewed as being healthy (Steve Paston/PA)

The study also says that Facebook has previously published an analysis which found that people who posted photos of cats are more likely to be single than those who uploaded pictures of dogs.

It says that the social media platform’s research, which used data from 160,000 US users, also found that people posting cat images had 26 fewer Facebook friends than those uploading images of dogs.

The research also suggests that cat and dog owners are more sensitive than those without pets to noises from the animals which show they are experiencing a negative emotion.

“This may be because pet owners have more experience interacting with these animals, or because they are initially more responsive to these animals and therefore seek them as pets,” the study states.

In total 561 people took part in the study.

PA

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