Interaction with cats could help to tackle loneliness in humans, a new report by All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cats (APGOCATS) has found.
The research, which was published to tie in with Loneliness Awareness Week 2020, wants to encourage people who are struggling with loneliness to spend more time with cats — whether this is through volunteering, fostering or helping at an animal rescue shelter.
Supported by Battersea Dogs & Cats, Cats Protection, and the Blue Cross, the report is now calling on the government to commission specific research on the benefits of cat ownership to those experiencing loneliness, working alongside animal rescue charities.
Sheryll Murray MP, Chair of APGOCATS, said: "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."
Also commenting on the study, Robin Hewings, Director of Campaigns, Policy and Research at the Campaign to End Loneliness, said: "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."
The Minister responsible for tackling loneliness, Baroness Barran MBE, also said: "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."
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