New study debunks ‘crazy cat lady’ myth
Cat owners have long been stereotyped as depressed, anxious, and solitary, preferring the company of animals to humans – however, a new study published in the Royal Society Open Science discovered that the stereotypical “crazy cat lady” simply does not exist.
Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) analysed more than 500 people and found that cat owners have the same levels of loneliness, depression and anxiety as everyone else, including dog owners and those who have no pets.
“We found no evidence to support the ‘cat lady’ stereotype: cat-owners did not differ from others on self-reported symptoms of depression, anxiety or their experiences in close relationships,” the study said.
Pet owners were also more likely to be distressed by a cat’s meow or a dog’s whimper. In particular, the researchers found that a crying dog’s effect on the people surveyed was nearly identical to that of a crying human baby.
“These sounds are very effective at capturing our attention. If you find yourself responding very strongly, that’s natural,” Christine Parsons, a co-author of the study and associate professor of the Interacting Minds Center at Aarhus University in Denmark told Insider.
“They have a really evocative signal and that makes sense. Cats will be OK without humans, but domesticated dogs absolutely rely on us for everything — they need us for survival.”