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Cattle used for cuddling therapy may prefer women over men


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Cattle used for cuddling therapy may prefer women over men

A recent trend for “cow cuddling” is said to reduce stress

Parilov/Shutterstock

Cattle used in human therapy programmes may prefer interacting with ****** and women than with men, a small study suggests.

Animal-assisted therapy programmes usually involve dogs, rabbits or horses, but there is a recent trend towards “cow cuddling” to reduce stress and loneliness.

To learn more about the potential effects of cattle in animal therapy programmes,

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at New York University and her colleague
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at the ******* States Military Academy West Point invited 11 people – five women, five men and one girl – aged 13 to 79 to interact with two castrated male Holsteins for at least 45 minutes each. Compitus had raised the steers, both around 1 year old, on a small sanctuary farm in Goshen, New York, after they were orphaned as newborns on a dairy farm.

The pair equipped each volunteer with a brush and a bag of treats, before asking them to interact with the steers – which Compitus says behave like “toy poodles” – in their home pen, while respecting the animals’ choice to engage with them.

Immediately after spending time with the steers, the participants filled out a 24-point questionnaire describing their interactions and how they sensed the animals felt about the experience.

All but one of the participants reported spending most of their time in the pen nearby to the steers as they watched, petted, talked to and took pictures with them. Overall, they felt the animals generally initiated non-threatening interactions with them, shown by smelling and licking them, making vocalisations or “moos”, and accepting food from them.

The women and girl reported more incidences of the steers licking, accepting food and responding to efforts to train them. While the men also described mostly positive interactions, they thought the steers sometimes acted aggressively.

That said, the women and girl reported kissing the steers twice as much as the men did, which may have influenced the results. They also spent significantly more time playing with the animals and taking photos with them, and reported slightly more positive interactions with the steers overall.

“Did the men interact with the cows? Absolutely they did, and they reported enjoying it,” says Compitus. “It’s just that, for some reason, the women seem to enjoy it more – and the cows enjoyed it more too.”

While further research is required, Compitus wonders if the animals sensed personality differences between the sexes. “Did the cows pick up that the women were just more nurturing and then elicit more attention from the women?” says Compitus. “That’s something that we have to look at further.”

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animals
#Cattle #cuddling #therapy #prefer #women #men

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