Cats can help people to feel less stressed and lonely, a new survey suggests.According to a poll of over 10,000 households, conducted by the charity Cats Protection , the majority of cat owners see their pets as “great companions".The first annual Cats and their Stats (CATS) report, described by the charity as “the first comprehensive picture of owned cats in the UK”, delved into a range of aspects of cat ownership, from the benefits to owners, to the health of cats and popular names.
The research showed that 59 per cent of cat owners believe their pets “are great companions and can relieve stress or loneliness ”.
“Cats are fabulous company and when you are feeling sad they just know how to cheer you up,” one respondent said.
Similarly, 86 per cent of owners said they talk to their cats, 91 per cent see them as part of the family and more than half (53 per cent) said they prioritise their cat's needs over their own.
Nine in 10 owners also said they stroke their cats every day and 61 per cent said they play with their pet every day.
However, the study showed that owning a cat can also be a source of concern for some people, with 55 per cent saying they worry about whether their pet is happy.
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Furthermore, 71 per cent said they do not like leaving their cats when they go away and 42 per cent said their pet had impacted their holiday plans.
According to Cats Protection, there are an estimated 10.2m owned cats in the UK, around one for every six people. In total, 23 per cent of households has at least one cat.Also revealed in the study were the most popular names for cats in the UK, with Bella or Belle topping the list for female cats and Bobby or Bob leading the way for males.Other popular names were Poppy, Molly, Lily or Lilly and Luna for female cats, and Charlie, Alfie, Oscar and Jack for males.
This year's CATS report is the first year of what the charity hopes will be an annual study.James Yeates, Cats Protection chief executive, said: “It gives us a new, robust and unique insight into the world of cats as well as their owners, across the nation.
“It provides compelling evidence that cats are complex, with varied needs that we must meet, and it resoundingly shows just how much we love our cats.
“Cats Protection will use these statistics to inform everything we do.”