Study Finds Cats Can Benefit Kids with Autism

Dogs are the most common service animal, but for children with autism spectrum disorder, cats may be more therapeutic.

A new study reported in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing found ordinary shelter cats had a calming effect on children with ASD, improving their empathy toward others while reducing bullying, hyperactivity and separation anxiety.

“Cats, and companion animals in general, offer unconditional acceptance and someone to talk to that listens, and caring for an animal can help with learning responsibility,” said study author Gretchen Carlisle, a research scientist at the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri veterinary college.

But dogs require more care and attention than cats, adding to the burden parents of children with autism already face.

They also are more active and energetic, which can trigger autistic children.

“Many children with autism have sensory issues and when a dog is barking in your face, it can be really overwhelming, whereas cats just sit beside you and are less overwhelming from a sensory standpoint,” Carlisle explained.

Her small study followed 11 families with autistic children ages 6-14. One group of families adopted a shelter cat and was followed for 18 weeks. A second group without a cat was followed for 18 weeks, then adopted a cat for another 18 weeks.

“Our study,” the researchers wrote, ”Found cat adoption was associated with greater empathy and less separation anxiety for children with ASD, along with fewer problem behaviors including externalizing, bullying and hyperactivity/inattention. Parents and children reported strong bonds to the cats.”

All the cats were screened for a calm temperament. “We specifically selected cats aged 10 months to 4 years because there is prior work that younger cats are more social with kids with autism, and adult temperament tends to be set at 10 months with cats, so these are younger cats with an adult temperament,” Carlisle told HealthDay News.

Commenting on the study, Dr. Melissa Nishawala, director of the Autism Spectrum Disorder Research and Clinical Program at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone Health in New York City, said that though the study was small, “these are promising findings that mirror what I see in practice.”

Photo by Andriyko Podilnyk

Resume Tricks for 2022
General Interest Green Key News Worklife

Resume Tricks for 2022

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Kornelia Klukowska
Accounting + Finance General Interest Green Key News Worklife

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Kornelia Klukowska

When to Say Goodbye to a Candidate
General Interest Green Key News Worklife

When to Say Goodbye to a Candidate

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Allison Vogt
General Interest Green Key News Worklife

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Allison Vogt

Green Key Unlocked: The Growth of Professional Support
General Interest Green Key News Professional Support Worklife

Green Key Unlocked: The Growth of Professional Support

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Brittany Leader
General Interest Green Key News Healthcare Worklife

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Brittany Leader

Green Key Unlocked: FAQs of Working with a Recruiter
General Interest Green Key News Pharma Worklife

Green Key Unlocked: FAQs of Working with a Recruiter

Green Key Announces New Senior Partners
General Interest Green Key News Worklife

Green Key Announces New Senior Partners

Green Key Against Gun Violence
General Interest Green Key News

Green Key Against Gun Violence

How to Support Mental Health in the Workplace
General Interest Green Key News Worklife

How to Support Mental Health in the Workplace

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Larry Goodman
General Interest Green Key News Pharma Worklife

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Larry Goodman

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Mike Glock
Accounting + Finance Financial Services General Interest Worklife

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Mike Glock

How to Make Your Candidate an Attractive Offer
General Interest Green Key News Worklife

How to Make Your Candidate an Attractive Offer

Tips for Recent Grads
General Interest Green Key News Worklife

Tips for Recent Grads

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Patrick Friel
Accounting + Finance General Interest Green Key News Worklife

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Patrick Friel

Working Moms at GKR
General Interest Green Key News Healthcare Human Resources Pharma Professional Support Worklife

Working Moms at GKR

Green Key Resources Opens New Jersey Office
General Interest Green Key News Worklife

Green Key Resources Opens New Jersey Office

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Tim Durkin
Accounting + Finance General Interest Green Key News Worklife

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Tim Durkin

Green Key Unlocked: Onboarding & Training in Agency Recruiting
General Interest Green Key News Worklife

Green Key Unlocked: Onboarding & Training in Agency Recruiting

How to Beat Work from Home Fatigue
General Interest Green Key News Worklife

How to Beat Work from Home Fatigue

Latest Blog Posts
View All Posts
Resume Tricks for 2022

Resume Tricks for 2022

To keep you on top of the resume trends, we've put together a comprehensive list of tricks and tips to...
Read More
#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Kornelia Klukowska

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Kornelia Klukowska

Coming directly from the accounting industry, Kornelia started her recruiting career six months ago and is already succeeding tremendously in...
Read More
When to Say Goodbye to a Candidate

When to Say Goodbye to a Candidate

As a recruiter, you will come across many talented and attentive individuals. However, there will always be candidates who display...
Read More