Publication of APGOCATS Report: Cats as Companions: Can Cats Help Tackle Loneliness?
Loneliness is one of the greatest public health challenges of our time. Recognition of the need to address the negative impact of loneliness was reflected in the 2018 launch of the UK government’s loneliness strategy1 and appointment of a dedicated Minister.
There is a growing interest in the potential for companion animals to ameliorate human loneliness. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on cats (APGOCATS) inquiry Cats as Companions: Can Cats Help Tackle Loneliness? publishes its findings today in a new report2. Key recommendations from the inquiry include:
- A pilot of cat ownership and interaction within a social prescribing context. Currently companion animal ownership or interaction is not widely promoted as an option for social prescribing practitioners
- Improve the evidence base. Most of the evidence showing a positive relationship between pet ownership and improving loneliness is piecemeal; there is limited academic research and still less that differentiates cats from other pets
- Enabling renters to own or foster a cat more easily. Housing policy continues to be an issue where pet policies in the rental sector prohibit pet ownership. People are renting their homes in increasing numbers across the country, yet the availability of pet-friendly accommodation remains low. This means those living in rented accommodation who may benefit from the companionship of a cat are being denied the opportunity, with a stigma remaining among landlords reinforcing the negative stereotypes of pet-owning tenants. Pet-friendly rentals are generally more expensive and harder to find.
- Provision of information and advice about responsible cat ownership and its benefits. Information on the benefits of cat ownership is not always available to those experiencing loneliness and who may potentially benefit, particularly at significant times of life change.
- Cats to be incorporated into health assessments and personalised care plans. Under the Care Act 2014, individuals requiring care can receive support for their wellbeing. However, provision for the care of someone’s pets is not currently considered in care and support plans.
- HM Government (2018) A connected society: a strategy for tackling loneliness – Laying the foundations for change. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-connected-society-a-strategy-for-tackling-loneliness
- APGOCATS (June 2020) Cats as Companions: Can Cats Help Tackle Loneliness? A report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cats. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on cats. http://www.apgocats.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/APGOCATS_Loneliness-Report.pdf