Cat-human related activities associated with human well-being

Samantha J. Ravenscroft, Ana Maria Barcelos, & Daniel S. Mills

School of Life Science, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK.

Besides inconsistent evidence relating to the mental health benefits of pet ownership, there is a specific lack of data in relation to cat ownership. Research in this field frequently fails to consider the effect of specific cat-human relationships or activities that might impact owner well-being. This study aimed to identify and address this gap by examining the activities associated with owning a cat that were perceived by owners to impact on their well-being. Twenty cat owners (18 to 74 years old) were interviewed remotely, and their audio transcripts thematically analysed. 67 activities were reported by cat owners to cause changes in their hedonic or eudaimonic well-being or life satisfaction. Most activities were reported to improve well-being, for example, “providing for the cat” increased feelings of enjoyment and enhanced owner’s reported purpose in life. However, some activities were predominantly associated with negative outcomes, such as veterinary visits and cat behaviour problems. This study presents an operationally-defined framework that lays the groundwork for further research in the field of human-cat interaction and human well-being. It highlights the importance of focusing on specific activities associated with cat ownership, rather than just assessing “ownership” per se, as if it is a homogenous phenomenon.

Keywords: cat ownership, eudaimonia, feline, hedonia, human-animal interaction, human well-being, life satisfaction, pet.

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Keywords: cat ownership, eudaimonia, feline, hedonia, human well-being, human-animal interaction, life satisfaction, pet
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