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    Stroking your cat could be bad for it's stress levels

    NewsCat Health NewsThursday 10 October 2013
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    What is better for us cat lovers than coming home after a long day at work and curling up on the sofa with a small something to eat, a cup of tea and the cat next to you or on your lap?
     
    But as much as that sounds like the perfect situation after a long day at work new research carried out by academics at the University of Lincoln has revealed that stroking cats could actually cause pets extra stress and not relax them. These findings were published in the Physiology & Behaviour journal this month.
     
    The project looked at studying cats in group situations such as when an owner kept more than one in their home. The team found that owners who would often stroke their cats were more stressful than those that would avoid being petted. Cats release hormones linked to anxiety when handled by humans.
     
    The academics therefore concluded that cats which shied away from physical contact were more happy with life than a cat which allowed itself to be stroked. The second cat was strangely less content due to be subjected to its owners affection.
     
    The findings were based on the levels of stress hormones among cats in the study group.
     
    Professoer Mills who helped lead the study said that “It seems that those cats on whom the owner imposes him or herself are the ones we need to be most concerned about. The results also reinforce the importance of ensuring that you give all individuals control over their environment, so if you have several cats you should give them the choice of sharing or having their own special areas to eat, drink and go to the toilet,” said Professor Mills.
     
    A cat owner, Sue Dowman, said that "I let my cat choose when she will be petted or stroked. If she chooses to stay in another room away from me, I leave her to have her space. If she chooses to sit near me I will pet her but I watch her body language to see if she has had enough. This is largely because, when she has had enough, she will let you know with a bite!
    "I’ve lived with cats all my life – sometimes with a few and sometimes, like now, with just one but I believe them not to be pack animals – they only really tolerate others - whatever the species. That said, my 14-year-old moggy does seem to seek more affection now than she did as a youngster – but it will always be on her terms."

    Professor Mills will also be making an appearance on the Channel 4 documentary ‘Dogs: Their Secret Lives’ which is due to air at 8pm on Monday October 14th
     
    Photo: Wikipedia
     
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