It’s the news cat owners have been waiting for: Owning lots of cats does not, in fact, mean you’re mad, sad or anxious.
That’s according to researchers at UCLA, who analyzed more than 500 pet owners and found nothing to support the long-held “crazy cat lady” stereotype.
The study, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, observed how people reacted to distress calls from animals and also compared pet ownership with mental health-related or social difficulties.
Its results will come as a relief to those people who, absurdly, prefer cats to dogs – and should give those who cling to the popular “cat lady” trope paws for thought.
“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.
“Our findings, therefore, do not fit with the notion of cat-owners as more depressed, anxious or alone.”
The conclusion backs a similar finding by researchers at University College London, who said in 2017 that they found no link between cat ownership and the development of psychotic symptoms.
The study also found that cat and dog owners are more likely to empathize with an animal’s distress calls, with owners getting sadder than non-owners when they heard a cat meow or a dog whimper.
“We found several subtle differences between how adults with and without pets generally rated animal vocalizations,” the study said, noting that those with pets rated such sounds more emotionally than those without.
Its overarching finding, though, was that people of all pet- and non-pet owning statuses were similarly depressed and anxious – debunking the “crazy cat lady” stereotype and proving that we’re all as miserable as each other.
This study isn’t the only one to provide cat owners with a big win over their dog-loving nemeses. A distressing piece of research last year found that dogs are … wait for it … not actually that smart.