The Pursuit of Happiness: Dogs vs Cats? The Super Bowl and Recent Research Answers

During the first year of the pandemic, nearly one in five U.S. households adopted a dog or cat. Those four-legged companions provided comfort and companionship to people from all walks of life, but recent research shows that only one of these pet groups may have helped survivors cope better.

The Pursuit of Happiness: Dogs vs Cats? The Super Bowl and Recent Research Answers
The furry feel, the soupy eyes...there's just something about a pet. A new study sheds some light on the dog vs cat debate 

It’s a widely accepted fact that pets hold a world of benefits for people all around the world. These range from lower stress and anxiety levels to early detection of certain seizure types and cancers! It, therefore, comes as no surprise that up to 70% of families in the United States own a pet. Moreover, a study done at the University of California may just have shed more light on exactly which pet may lead to a happier life, and updated stats from the Super Bowl seem to agree! Let’s delve in further to learn more about these stats and how much more we can benefit from our furry friends.

What's The Super Bowl Got To Do With it?

With a viewership of up to 113 million in the United States alone, the Super Bowl is easily one of the biggest stages there is, with different teams battling it out for a spot among the greats. But it wasn’t only the games or the awe-inspiring performance by one of music’s greatest stars that won the hearts of families and individuals all over the country, as stats from USA Today’s Ad Meter showed that a dog-related ad had the highest rating during the last Super Bowl weekend, becoming the first sentimental ad to take the top spot since 2015, when yet another dog ad took the No. 1 spot. This might just give us an inkling into the answer to the age-old dogs vs cats debate.

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Pets and Pandemics

A lot of people are aware that pets helped a ton during the lockdown, as studies show to be true. But, it seems that the COVID pandemic wasn’t their first rodeo, as a study conducted in the early 1990s, during the peak of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States, had 51% of HIV-positive participants reporting that they owned pets. Those pet owners were less likely to show signs of depression. The effect was most substantial among AIDS patients with strong attachments to their animals. To the millions of people who weathered COVID with furry friends by their sides, that's not surprising.

Like whipped coffee and sourdough bread, pet ownership was one of the most popular ways people coped with the stress of COVID isolation. During the first year of the pandemic, nearly one in five U.S. households adopted a dog or cat. Those four-legged companions provided comfort and companionship to people from all walks of life, including AIDS epidemic survivors.

Studying Animal Companionship in Survivors; Dogs vs Cats

Pets, especially dogs, are famous for making people feel happier and less lonely. Researchers at the University of California, Davis wanted to know how true that was for people who went through the AIDS and COVID-19 pandemics, though, so, in 2021, they surveyed 150 long-term survivors who've faced significant challenges to their health and well-being.

The survey included both dog and cat owners. Both groups said they felt more isolated and unsupported during the AIDS epidemic. Back then, there was a lot of stigma and fear surrounding the disease. People felt abandoned by friends, family, and even the government. Though COVID didn't present the same challenges, survivors still experienced sadness and grief. They struggled with universal isolation. Luckily, both dog and cat owners report that their pets benefit them and comfort them when they feel sad.

When it comes to fighting isolation, though, dogs come out ahead.

Man's best friend, even in the darkest times. Through two pandemics, dogs have helped survivors feel happier and less isolated.

The Cats Came in Second

People tend to consider dogs to be more work than cats. You don't have to walk a cat (you can, but you might get some strange looks). You can leave a cat alone for longer periods. Cats usually need less attention, though many are very affectionate.

People often choose cats specifically because they're low-maintenance. You don't have to spend cold mornings in the rain waiting for them to pee, but you still get the love of a furry companion. In the study conducted at UC Davis, every cat owner said their pet provided them with comfort during one or both pandemics—but surprisingly, cat owners felt sadder than those without cats. Cat owners also felt more isolated and less supported than dog owners. Perhaps there's something beneficial about those mandatory walks, especially when people are socially distancing.

What do you think though? Are you a dog lover or a cat person?

Still Man's Best Friend

Dogs are social animals with a tendency to bring people together. That tendency may help to explain why dog owners did so much better than cat owners, according to researchers. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, dog owners could still walk their dogs. Those dogs probably sparked conversations among neighbors—hopefully at a slight distance—who would otherwise have stayed isolated.

Pets Are a Commitment

Whether you choose to go the dog or cat route, pets remain loving, loyal, and affectionate beings that bring joy to a household. If you're thinking of getting a pet, make sure you can take care of them long-term. Plan to give them the love they deserve and treat them as family.

To learn more about how beneficial our furry friends are, and to stay up to date with the latest health news and research, Sign Up for our Free Pulse Newsletter today!

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