Washington, DC October 3, 2017 (STL.NEWS) The University of Missouri has received a grant totaling $52,204 from the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, (HABRI) with an additional $25,000 from the Winn Feline Foundation, for a study on cat adoptions and children with Autism. The new study is titled “Shelter Cat Adoption in Families of Children with Autism: Impact on Children’s Social Skills and Anxiety as well as Cat Stress”. The study will focus specifically on how shelter cats affect children with autism related to social skills and anxiety, and also the impact on the feline’s stress levels.
Research and studies have concluded beneficial outcomes for children on the autism spectrum when pets have been introduced, primarily, these studies have focused on dogs. This study will be different due to the temperament and care characteristics of cats. From the news release, Gretchen Carlisle Ph.D. with the University of Missouri’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Principal Investigator of the study states, “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.”
Study participants will be from a yet unannounced mid-western autism diagnostic and treatment center and the cats from two local animal shelters. Utilizing multiple testing controls and methods, the hope is to find greater social interaction in the active group compared to any control groups and that the participants have bonded with the cats. The hope for the cats is that they integrate into the family without elevated stress. The study is expected to last 18 months.
Visit the Human Animal Bond Research Institute here.
Visit the Winn Feline Foundation here.