Cats as Companions:
Can Cats Help Tackle Loneliness?
Loneliness has been identified as one of the most pressing public health issues facing the UK, leading to the publication of the Government’s Strategy to deal with the issue.
This report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cats (APGOCATS), published on the 15th June 2020, has found that cat ownership and interaction with cats is one of a number of measures with the potential to tackle loneliness across all age groups in specific social situations.
Currently, companion animal ownership or interaction is not widely promoted by health and social welfare professionals. APGOCATS took evidence from mental health and social care charities, academics, housing and healthcare providers on the benefits cats can provide in terms of companionship. The group also heard about the complexities involved with tackling individual loneliness. The report makes clear that interaction with cats needs to be seen as just one measure that may help, alongside others such as social interaction.
The report makes a series of recommendations for care providers, welfare charities and the Government to explore allowing and encouraging people who are struggling with loneliness to interact with cats. In addition, the report calls on Government to commission specific research on the benefits of cat ownership to those experiencing loneliness, working alongside animal rescue charities.
“As a cat owner I have always found great pleasure and happiness from having cats in my life and can testify to how they can be great companions and provide love, support and enjoyment. I am delighted, as Chair of APGOCATS, to present this report to Government and professional organisations working in this field.
“Tackling loneliness is a priority health issue facing many across the UK. The role cats and other pets can play to help tackle the problem is under-researched and merits further attention. I very much look forward to taking forward the report recommendations.”
Sheryll Murray MP, Chair of APGOCATS
“As the Minister for Loneliness, I think a lot about the different ways we can help people who feel lonely, from befriending to community groups. I personally believe that pets, including cats, can be a welcome source of support and can bring real joy to people’s lives.”
Baroness Barran MBE
“ I very much welcome this report by APGOCATS which has been compiled by organisations and experts that care about both cats and people. It is clear that the role of cats in combating loneliness is under-explored and this report goes a long way to highlighting the many ways they can help. There is no simple cure for loneliness, but there is clearly real potential for cats to have a more beneficial role in people’s lives, and I urge the Government to consider the findings of this report.”
Robin Hewings, Director of Campaigns, Policy and Research at the Campaign to End Loneliness
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