Move Over Dogs, Cats Provide Many Benefits for Children on the Spectrum

New Study Examines the Effects of Shelter Cat Ownership in Families Dealing with ASD

Remarkable increases in empathy and significant decreases in problem behaviors including bullying and hyperactivity/inattention, coupled with less separation anxiety are some of the benefits children with autism exhibited after a cat was introduced to their household. These exciting findings come from a groundbreaking study out of the University of MIssouri. It is the first randomized controlled trial that studied cat adoption for families of children with autism. Previous research has examined the benefits of dog ownership but this new study’s lead author points out that dogs may not be a good fit for children on the spectrum since many have hypersensitivities to sound. This novel research reported that children and parents developed a strong bond with their new cat almost immediately. This bond did not decrease over time, even when the caregiving responsibilities were introduced to the child. The University of MIssouri researchers hope these results will encourage more autism families to consider adopting a shelter cat for their child.  

Original Article

Study Abstract

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