Autistic children over the age of 5 with cats are more social than other kids with autism, Medical Daily reports in a roundup of several studies. They looked into research over the past few years and outlined repeated findings that children with autism benefit from having cats and other pets.
A PLOS One study in 2012 showed increased prosocial behaviors in autistic kids with pets such as cats. For children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, the age of 5 is key in the development of the condition.
Researchers found it significant, then, that children with autism who had a pet after turning 5 were shared more often and offered comfort to people, compared to other ASD kids. In addition, the stronger the bond between child and pet grew, the higher the social functioning became.
Anecdotally, says Medical Daily, “There are plenty of heartwarming personal stories out there too.” Beyond researchers’ controlled environments, strong evidence exists for “the benefits of a pet, specifically cats. in dealing with autism.”
Medical Daily’s post highlights ASD but admits that pets, “including and especially cats, are known to ease the burdens of most everyone who owns them.”
So sure cats can be temperamental. Or fussy. Or bossy. But they can also be our best friends. (They’re basically the college roommates of the animal world). And for some lucky people, they can be lifesaving.