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Study Finds Pets Have Made Americans Feel Less Alone Amid Pandemic

Thursday August 27, 2020

Three-quarters of Americans couldn't have gotten through the quarantine without their pet, according to new research.

The survey of 2,000 cat owners (57% of whom also have a dog) looked at the various benefits provided by our furry friends during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ways in which they helped us through.

Pets were found to provide comfort and help with feelings of anxiety: 57% said having a pet made them feel less alone, while 49% said it helped them feel less anxious.

Those weren't the only benefits, though. 41% said being with their pet gave them someone to talk to, and 35% said their pet brought a feeling of positivity to their days.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Royal Canin, the survey also found quarantine was an opportunity for respondents to learn more about their four-legged friends.

Two-thirds (66%) of cat owners surveyed learned or noticed something new about their pet, while 76% became closer to their pet as a result of the quarantine.

Being cooped up indoors gave respondents time to uncover a new spot their pet enjoys hiding in (64%), notice a new behavior (57%), and discover a new food their pet likes (55%).

But our pets, like many of us, may be ready for things to return to normal. The survey found 73% of those surveyed said their cat seems to be ready for some space.

"Although many cats are enjoying the attention from their owners being at home, most cats are independent and do a good job of structuring their day themselves," said Laura Pletz, DVM, Scientific Services Manager, Royal Canin. "Owners should make gradual changes to help reduce stress and ease the transition back to 'normal' life."

With all the things our pets do for us — during quarantine and beyond — it's no wonder that respondents want to return the favor.

Eighty-six percent of respondents said they want to take care of their pet because their pet takes care of them — and 84% said their cat is important to them, and therefore their health is important.

But when it comes to taking their cat to the vet, some respondents have misconceptions about the best practice.

Many cats aren't being taken in regularly: 6 in 10 said they only take their cat to the vet when they notice something is wrong, versus taking them for check-ups.

Twenty-three percent of those surveyed believe cats don't need to be taken to the vet as often as dogs, while 24% don't believe indoor cats need to be vaccinated.

And 35% mistakenly believe indoor cats don't need to be taken to the vet as often as outdoor cats.

In good news though, the survey found 66% plan to change how they care for their pet after COVID-19.

And to thank them for all the things they did for us during this time, 36% plan to take their pet to the vet once quarantine ends to make sure they're healthy.

"Regular veterinary visits ensure that cats are up-to-date on all vaccinations, heartworm prevention, and flea and tick prevention," said Dr Pletz. "Annual vet visits for all cats are essential to maintaining health and wellbeing, but senior cats and those with chronic conditions should be seen more frequently."