Cats help kids understand health, says cat charity

Owning a cat as a pet means your children will have a better understanding of medical procedures like X-rays, injections and surgery, according to a survey.

The survey was carried out by cat-loving charity Cats Protection, which makes you wonder whether a dog charity might be able to use the same survey and substitute the word dog for cat.

The study, by health psychologist Dr June McNicholas shows that children aged between 6 and 7 have a better understanding of health and illness if their families own a cat.

According to the survey:

  • 78 per cent of cat owning children understood surgery, compared with just 37 per cent of non-cat owning children
  • 79 per cent of cat owning children understood X-Rays, compared with 61 per cent of non-cat owning children
  • 66 per cent of cat owning children understood injections and vaccinations, compared with 41 per cent of non-cat owning children.

The findings also show that children who live in households with cats have a better knowledge of healthy eating and the importance of exercise.

Dr McNicholas said, “These results show that children who have cats gain a much greater awareness of health issues, often gained through their involvement in cat care routines including visits to the vet surgery.

“For many children, the health treatment of a pet cat may be more thoroughly explained to them than any treatment they, or a close family member, may receive from human medics.

“It goes to show that cats have a very valuable role in teaching children important health lessons which will stay with them for life.”

Director of Veterinary Services for Cats Protection, Maggie Roberts BVM&S MRCVS, said: “By tagging along when a family cat is taken to the vets, children are exposed to medical issues which they otherwise may be sheltered from if the patient were human.

“Most vets recognise the strong bonds between children and their pet cats and will take time and care to explain the reasons behind procedures such as vaccinations and neutering.”

Cats Protection is the UK’s largest cat charity, rehoming 52,000 cats every year through a network of 252 volunteer-run branches and 29 adoption centres.

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