3 August 2022

Cat owners came off second best in covid lockdowns

The Back Page

You win this round, dog owners.


The pandemic has seen an age-old question being debated on a new front.

Beatles versus Stones, red versus white – even “lock us up” versus “let the virus rip” – these only merit civilised discussion over a glass of red. Or white.

But when it comes to cat versus dog ownership, that’s where the claws come out. This divide is serious.

So, no surprise it found its way into the question of who weathered the isolation storm the best.

The Back Page was delighted to see recent research led by James Cook University psychology lecturer Dr Jessica Oliva is pouring some fresh but evidence-based oil on these already troubled waters.

“Responses [from an earlier study] detailing how being a pet owner affected participant lockdown experiences suggested this might be due to dog owners leaving the house more to walk their dogs, producing opportunities to socialise and exercise,” said Dr Oliva.

Her team wanted to explore whether the relationship between dog-walking and loneliness is connected to mindfulness – the ability to remain focused on the here and now.

They surveyed 534 dog owners, cat owners, and those without pets living alone in Australia during the second lockdown period.

According to Dr Oliva, “dog people” were found to differ significantly from “cat people” on all the Big Five personality traits: extroversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness and neuroticism.

Champions of the canine and feline causes will have already formed their respective opinions about this, but that scrap can be fought out elsewhere.

Given those personality differences, it’s possible that dog people are also more resilient to social isolation and the impacts of a lockdown, Dr Oliva said.

But the team didn’t find evidence this was down to going for a stroll with the pooch.

Rather, it was simply because they were A Dog Person – and Dog People do isolation well.

Dog owners one, cat owners nil, when it comes to dealing with the pandemic.

Of course, the cats probably don’t give two hoots.

If covid has driven you barking mad, let penny@medicalrepublic.com.au know.