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

How to Answer Salary Expectations
General Interest Green Key News Worklife

How to Answer Salary Expectations

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Sean Coyne
Architecture + Engineering General Interest Green Key News Worklife

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Sean Coyne

Questions to Ask During a Job Interview
General Interest Green Key News Human Resources Worklife

Questions to Ask During a Job Interview

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Angela Singh
General Interest Green Key News Human Resources Worklife

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Angela Singh

The Power of Work Friends
General Interest Green Key News Worklife

The Power of Work Friends

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Rachel Azzolini
Accounting + Finance General Interest Green Key News Worklife

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Rachel Azzolini

The Effects of Quiet Quitting
General Interest Green Key News Worklife

The Effects of Quiet Quitting

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Karen Martinez
General Interest Green Key News Healthcare Worklife

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Karen Martinez

How to Address Strengths and Weaknesses in an Interview
General Interest Green Key News Human Resources Worklife

How to Address Strengths and Weaknesses in an Interview

Green Key Unlocked: Success as a Biometric Professional
General Interest Green Key News Pharma Worklife

Green Key Unlocked: Success as a Biometric Professional

Perks of Working Temp & Contract Roles
General Interest Green Key News Human Resources Worklife

Perks of Working Temp & Contract Roles

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Lindsay Smith
Accounting + Finance General Interest Green Key News Worklife

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Lindsay Smith

Tips for Starting a New Job as a Remote Employee
General Interest Green Key News Worklife

Tips for Starting a New Job as a Remote Employee

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Kayla Jones
General Interest Green Key News Pharma Worklife

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Kayla Jones

Green Key Unlocked: Marketing Technology Consultants
General Interest

Green Key Unlocked: Marketing Technology Consultants

How to Write a Thank You Email
General Interest Green Key News Worklife

How to Write a Thank You Email

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Ben Johnson
General Interest Green Key News Professional Support Worklife

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Ben Johnson

How Social Media Can Grow Your Business
Creative General Interest Green Key News Worklife

How Social Media Can Grow Your Business

How to Take Pride Beyond June
General Interest Green Key News Human Resources Worklife

How to Take Pride Beyond June

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Mary Baynard
General Interest Green Key News Professional Support Worklife

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Mary Baynard

Latest Blog Posts
View All Posts
How to Answer Salary Expectations

How to Answer Salary Expectations

Whether when filling out the application, or during the offer process, you will likely be asked about your salary expectations...
Read More
#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Sean Coyne

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Sean Coyne

Sean specializes in construction recruitment and has several years of experience within the industry.
Read More
Questions to Ask During a Job Interview

Questions to Ask During a Job Interview

If you’re a working professional, you’ve likely experienced the end of interview session, when the interviewer asks if you have...
Read More