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
Turn Your Office Into A ‘Woofice’

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today the latest installment of The Pet Effect campaign highlighting the many benefits of pets at work. The Woofice combines research supporting the benefits of pet-inclusive workplaces with practical tools for offices that want to become pet inclusive, all delivered with an entertaining, lighthearted approach. The Woofice video features a series of vignettes designed to pay homage to the beloved TV show, The Office, while delivering research-based messages about the positive impact of pets in the workplace. “With millennial pet owners driving demand for more pet-friendly offices, The Woofice campaign is incredibly timely,” said Steven Feldman HABRI Executive Director. “It is HABRI’s genuine hope that The Woofice videos and campaign content catch on and inspire people to take steps to create pet-friendly workplaces, so that the benefits of strong and healthy human-animal bonds can not only be experienced at home but also every weekday from 9 to 5!” Research supports a host of benefits from having pets at work. For example, research has found a link between a pet-friendly workplace and improved communication and collaboration among employees. Studies have also shown that pets can help buffer stress, encourage interaction and rapport between neighbors in communities, and improve other elements of physical and mental health, such as increased physical activity and decreased depression. “The Woofice video is a fun way to educate employees and HR professionals on the importance of pet-inclusive workplaces for greater productivity, enhanced employee engagement, and improved relationships in the office,” Feldman added. The Woofice campaign includes data on pet-inclusive workplaces, which found that pet-friendly companies are more likely to attract, engage and retain employees. It also highlights research showing that more than three times as many employees at pet-friendly workplaces reported a positive...

Press Releases
Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Announces 2015 Research Grants

The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation today announced funding for seven research grants in 2015, totaling more than $225,000 dollars. Focused on child health and development, mental health and wellness, and healthy aging, these grants will advance scientific understanding of the human-animal bond and its impact on human health. “As one of the organization’s founders, I am proud of how far we have come in only a few years,” said Bob Vetere, President and CEO of the American Pet Products Association and President of the HABRI Board of Trustees. “With HABRI, we can put science behind what many of us believe – if we take good care of our pets, they will take good care of us!” “The companies and organizations that support HABRI are leaders in supporting the scientific research to advance our knowledge of the human-animal bond,” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “Everyone associated with HABRI is grateful for their commitment to this important endeavor.” HABRI has awarded a total of $226,557 to the following recipients and research projects: Sandra Branson, PhD, MSN, RN (University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston): Biobehavioral Effects of Therapy Dog Visitation in Elderly Intensive Care Unit Patients Alan E. Kazdin, PhD, ABPP (Yale University): Interactions with Animals to Reduce Children’s Stress Rebecca A. Johnson, PhD, RN, FAAN, FNAP (University of Missouri): Companion Animals, Social Engagement, and Psychological Well-Being in Mid and Later Adulthood Annie Petersen, Ed.D (Association for Human-Animal Bond Studies): Listening EARS: How Does Reading to Rabbits Effect the Reading Skills of Third Grade Students? Robin L. Gabriels, PsyD (University of Colorado, Denver): Physiological Wellness Effects of Animal-Assisted Activities in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in a Specialized Psychiatric Hospital Program Marguerite E. O’Haire, PhD (Purdue University): Pilot Study of the Effects of Service Dogs...

Press Releases
Therapy Dogs Improve Social Behaviors in Psychiatrically Hospitalized Youth with Autism

March 14, 2019– The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), the Children’s Hospital Colorado and the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus today announced the publication of a pilot study exploring the benefits of animal-assisted activities (AAA) for psychiatrically hospitalized youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). “Individuals with autism spectrum disorder have difficulties with communication and socialization skills, and often experience difficulties with emotion dysregulation, which can lead to more intensive intervention services such as psychiatric hospitalization,” said researcher and lead author, Monique Germone, PhD, BCBA, University of Colorado, Children’s Hospital Colorado. “Psychiatric hospital environments can be particularly overwhelming and stressful environments for individuals with ASD, and animal-assisted activity is one of the most widely used complementary forms of treatment in hospital settings. We chose to build on existing science that shows children with ASD demonstrate significantly more positive social-communication behaviors when an animal is present.” Dr. Germone, along with study’s principal investigator Robin Gabriels, PsyD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine recruited participants ages 4-17 years old from the inpatient and partial hospitalization unit of a specialized psychiatric unit for pediatric patients with ASD. A crossover study design, participants attended both the experimental (AAA) and control (novel toy) conditions. Both group sessions occurred in a classroom setting and began with quiet play, followed by social skills group and then participants engaging in either the experimental or control condition. The 10-minute experimental sessions included therapy dog-handler teams. The researchers captured behavioral data via video and used the OHAIRE coding system designed to quantify social communication, and interactions with animals and control objects. Categories...

HABRI