After Being Adopted By Households with Kids on the Autism Spectrum, Cats Are Much less Burdened
Previous studies have shown that having a feline friend at home can help reduce stress and anxiety in children with autism. As it turns out, these benefits can be mutual.
According to a new study by researchers at the University of Missouri, stress levels in cats go down after they are admitted to a home with at least one child with autism. The team discovered this by monitoring the cats’ weight and measuring their levels of cortisol, which is linked to stress. The results were recently published in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science.
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Gretchen Carlisle, lead author and researcher at the Human-Animal Interaction Research Center at MU, says, “It’s not only important to examine how families of children with autism can benefit from these wonderful pets, but also whether the relationship is stressful or stressful for the shelter cats adopted into a new, perhaps unpredictable, environment. In our study, we found that the cats have got used to their new families well and have become significantly less stressed over time. “
To conduct their research, the team monitored shelter cats before and after adoption into an autism family. They started with a feline temperament profile screening to see which cats had calm and relaxed personalities. After the families adopted the deceased cats, the team contacted them again a few days after the adoption, and then every six weeks for 18 weeks. During this process, they tested cat feces for cortisol levels and found that it decreased significantly over time.
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Carlisle adds, “Cats also have a tendency to lose weight from not eating when stressed, but we found that the cats actually gained some weight initially after adoption and then retained their weight over time Good.”
She says children with autism can have sensory and behavioral issues that can lead to outbreaks. Hence, for such families, it can be a good idea to find a relaxed cat to make sure it is suitable for everyone.
She says, “From a humanitarian perspective, caring for the welfare of cats is vital, and this research also helps shelter workers overcome the financial and administrative hurdles that can arise when cats are returned to shelters when they do not fit well with them the adoptive family. Obviously, shelters want to house all of their cats, but some families may need a more specific fit, and using research-based, objective measurements to screen for temperament can help increase the likelihood of successful, long-term matches. “
Carlisle hopes other researchers will build on this study to help shelter cats find their best forever home and to help families with an autistic child make the right furry friend.
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