Cats have become more clingy during lockdown, according to new research.
A joint study by the University of Lincoln and the University of York looked at reported changes in pet welfare and behavior.
Research then examined the relationship between these changes and the variation in daily living, behavior, and mental health of their owners.
One unexpected finding was that cat owners reported that their pets were more affectionate than owners of other animals during the lockdown period.
Professor Daniel Mills of the University of Lincoln said, “While it has long been known that pets can be life enriching, a pet’s well-being is greatly influenced by the behavior of its owners, as well as their physical and social characteristics.” Surroundings.
“Our results extend previous knowledge about the perceived well-being and behavioral changes in a very limited range of species to a much broader range of domestic animal species.
“The mental health of the owner has a clear impact on pet welfare and behavior and is clearly something that we need to consider when trying to do what is best for the animals we care for.”
Not only did cats become more affectionate during the lockdown phase, but also more positive changes in their behavior compared to dogs.
During last year’s lockdown, the research team conducted a survey of more than 5,000 pet owners in the UK to learn about mental health, human-animal bonds and reported changes in animal welfare and behavior.
In the survey, 67.3% of pet owners said that the welfare and behavior of their animals changed during the initial lockdown phase.
Analysis of the responses showed that owners of pets with poorer mental health scores prior to lockdown reported fewer negative changes in welfare and behavior.
However, pet owners with poorer mental health scores since lockdown reported more positive and negative changes in animal welfare and behavior.
Emily Shoesmith of the University of York said, “Our results suggest that poorer mental health can increase awareness for one’s pet, and empathic engagement can lead to reporting changes in animal welfare and behavior, both positive and negative . “
Overall, it was reported that about a third of cats and dogs were unaffected by initial lockdown, compared to about 40% of the other species.
Many animals also appeared to have improved welfare as a result.
Between 10–15% of all owners stated that their animal appeared more energetic and playful and 20–30% stated that their animal appeared more relaxed.
At least three times as many owners report improvements rather than deterioration in the physical condition of their animals.