New Research to Investigate the Effect of Shelter Cat Adoption on Stress and Anxiety in Children with Autism | HABRI

New Research to Investigate the Effect of Shelter Cat Adoption on Stress and Anxiety in Children with Autism

Human Animal Bond Research Institute and Winn Feline Foundation Award Grants to University of Missouri

Human Animal Bond Research Institute and Winn Feline Foundation Award Grants to University of Missouri

Washington, D.C. (October 2, 2017) — The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today it has awarded a $52,204 grant to the University of Missouri for a new study, Shelter Cat Adoption in Families of Children with Autism: Impact on Children’s Social Skills and Anxiety as well as Cat Stress. This study will examine the effect of the introduction of a shelter cat on social skills and anxiety in children with autism, and on stress levels for the cats themselves.

“Preliminary research demonstrates the effectiveness of companion animal interaction on alleviating social skills deficits and anxiety in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD),” said the study’s Principal Investigator, Gretchen Carlisle, PhD, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri. “While many studies have focused on the impact of dogs on children with ASD, this study aims to determine the beneficial impacts of a pet cat on children with autism and their families, as the temperament and the ease of care for cats compared to other animals may increase the likelihood of a positive outcome for the children, the cats and the family as a whole.”

In addition to HABRI’s grant award, the PIs have also received funding from the Winn Feline Foundation in the amount of $25,000. The combined funding from Winn Feline and HABRI have enabled the PIs to expand the sample size and add the support of a statistician, which will greatly enhance the power of the study and hopefully result in more definitive and robust findings.

“Winn Feline Foundation is thrilled to have initially supported this important study on the human-cat bond and to hear of HABRI’s grant award. Their additional support will strengthen the study’s findings”, commented Winn’s Executive Director Dr. Vicki Thayer. “This significant project evaluating the effects and benefits of adoption of cats by children and families with ASD fits our mission and values”.

Using a two-group, randomized, repeated measures design with a delayed treatment control group, this 18-month study will recruit participants through a Mid-western autism diagnostic and treatment center. Shelter cats from two local animal shelters will be screened for temperament and then enrolled. Dr. Carlisle, and co-PI Rebecca Johnson, PhD, Professor and Director, Research Center for Human Animal Interaction, College of Veterinary Medicine, and Co-Investigators Jessica Bibbo, PhD, Colleen Koch, DVM, Leslie Lyons, PhD, and Nancy Cheak-Zamora, PhD, will pre-screen the human participants and families will be randomized into the treatment or delayed treatment control groups. Cat stress will be measured through fecal cortisol. Caregivers will complete a 19-item demographic questionnaire and children’s social skills and ASD symptoms will be measured using several instruments. Families randomized into the treatment group will adopt a cat first while those in the control group will adopt a cat after 18 weeks. The investigators expect to find that children of families with an adopted shelter cat will have increased social skills, decreased anxiety and that they will become bonded with their cat. It is also expected that cats will adjust to their new homes without significant stress.

“This study has great potential to advance our knowledge of the benefits of the human-animal bond for children and families with ASD,” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “Caregivers and parents should select the pet that is best suited for their family and for the well-being of the animal – maybe that’s a cat.”

About HABRI

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) maintains the world’s largest online library of human-animal bond research and information; funds innovative research projects to scientifically document the health benefits of companion animals; and informs the public about human-animal bond research and the beneficial role of companion animals in society. For more information about HABRI, visit www.habri.org.

About The University of Missouri

The University of Missouri was founded in 1839 in Columbia as the first public university west of the Mississippi River. Today, with an enrollment of more than 33,000 students, 13,000 full-time employees and 305,000 alumni, Mizzou is a $2.2 billion enterprise and an important investment for the state and nation.

About Winn Feline Foundation

Winn Feline Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1968 that supports studies to improve cat health. Since 1968, the Winn Feline Foundation has funded more than $6 million in health research for cats at more than 30 partner institutions world-wide. This funding is made possible through the support of dedicated donors and partners. Research supported by Winn Feline Foundation helps veterinarians to improve treatment of common feline health problems and prevent many diseases. For further information, go to www.winnfelinefoundation.org.

Contact

Jamie Baxter

jamie@theimpetusagency.com

775.322.4022

###

Press Releases
Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) Shareable Infographic: Top 5 Health Benefits of Cat Ownership

In celebration of National Cat Day, the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) has created a shareable infographic on the health benefits of cat ownership. The infographic, “Top 5 Benefits of Cat Ownership”, highlights the research supporting the health benefits of cats for people of all ages. Approximately 43 million American households include a pet cat, with many households owning more than one[i], making them the second most popular pet by household, behind dogs. Scientific research demonstrates that cat ownership can confer benefits to both mental and physical health in their owners. Specifically, cat ownership can reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and improve heart health, alleviate social isolation and loneliness, and reduce stress. In children, living with cats can strengthen immunity in the first year of life, and a pet cat can help those with autism and their families. HABRI hopes that in sharing this infographic far and wide, we can raise awareness of the benefits of cat ownership and to strengthen human-cat bonds everywhere. This infographic is part of an ongoing series to help share human-animal bond research and the message that pets enrich our lives, in good times and in bad. Earlier this year, HABRI released the “Can Pets Help You Live Longer?“, the “Top 5 Mental Health Benefits of Pets” and the “Top Benefits of the Human-Animal Bond” infographics. i. American Pet Products Association’s 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey

Press Releases
Easing Restrictions on Pets in Rental Housing Could Help 8.75 Million Pets Find Homes Over Time

Non-profit organizations Michelson Found Animals Foundation and the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) today announced the launch of the Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative, a research and resource development initiative that promotes access to the joy of pets in every home. As part of the initial phase, the organizations today released the results of the most comprehensive survey research to-date on pets and rental housing in the United States. The research shows that, while the majority of rental housing allows pets, significant restrictions present hurdles for pet-owning renters. The research also shows that there are major opportunities for property owners and operators who can ease such restrictions. “Michelson Found Animals and HABRI had a clear goal with this research: to provide actionable insights that can help make it easier for renters to have pets in their lives,” said Aimee Gilbreath, executive director, Michelson Found Animals. “More pet-inclusive rentals could lead to millions more adoptions for renters who want pets.” Steven Feldman, HABRI executive director, added: “The health and wellness benefits of pet ownership are well documented. Both renters and property managers understand how great pets are, and when restrictions are lifted, everyone can enjoy the full benefits of the human-animal bond.” One third of pet owners in restricted pet-friendly housing said they would get another pet if restrictions were lifted, and 35% of non-pet-owners in non-pet-friendly housing would get a pet if restrictions were lifted. With changes that would allow more pets to be accommodated, as many as 8.75 million animals could find new homes over time.   24% of renters with pets said that “my pet has been a reason for me needing to move,” which means as many as 6 million people have experienced a move related to pet ownership at some point in their lives. 83% of property managers say that pet-friendly vacancies can be filled faster. 79%...

Press Releases
PAWS Act Coalition Hails Passage of Appropriations Bill as Key Milestone in Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence and their Pets

The PAWS Act Coalition, a group of nonprofit and for-profit organizations, lauded the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020, which, for the first time, will provide $2 million in USDA grants to enable more domestic violence shelters to become pet-friendly so that victims of domestic violence and their pets may shelter and heal together. The grants come one year after the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act was authorized as part of the 2019 Farm Bill, which received bipartisan support in its passage. “These new grants will help expand the network of domestic violence shelters which allow pets to accompany their families seeking safe shelter,” said Nina Leigh Krueger, president of Purina. “This is an important milestone in the coalition’s collective efforts to create safer communities for pets and pet owners, and Purina will remain steadfast in our commitment to protecting the bond between domestic abuse survivors and their pets by ensuring they can safely heal together.” The PAWS Act Coalition would like to thank the original co-sponsors of the Pet and Women Safety Act for their leadership and commitment to its passage, especially the lead sponsors Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA-5), Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) and former Senator Dean Heller (R-NV). The Coalition is also particularly grateful for Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) for spearheading the effort to pass the bill by including its language in the Farm Bill. “No one should have to make the choice between finding safety and staying in a violent situation to protect their pet,” said Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA-5). “This law and the newly appropriated federal dollars will empower survivors with the resources to leave a dangerous situation while being able to continue to care for their pet. I’m grateful for the partnerships we’ve formed between organizations working to end both domestic violence and animal abuse. Together, we will help save lives.” The USDA will now be able...

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!