Contemporary Psychology, Vol. 25, No. 1, 2022, 33-46

Original scientific paper

Subjective well-being and psychophysical health of dog and cat owners

Mateo Županović - Podglavička 5, 22 203 Rogoznica
Jelena Ombla - Odjel za psihologiju, Sveučilište u Zadru, Obala kralja Petra Krešimira IV, br. 2, Zadar

Fulltext (croatian, pages 33-46).pdf

Research into the affective relationship between owners and their pets in the context of attachment is still ongoing, but the relationship itself appears to have favorable health outcomes for humans. Given the lack of data on the coexistence of humans and pets in our country, the aim of this study was to examine the subjective well-being and self-assessed mental and physical health of dog and cat owners taking into account the quality of an affective relationship towards pets. The study involved 505 pet owners (Mage = 27.45), of which 62.4% were dog owners and 37.6% were cat owners. The research was conducted online, and aside from general sociodemographic information, data were collected on aspects of subjective well-being, mental and somatic symptoms, and the experience of a safe haven in relation to the pet. Dog owners and cat owners show equal satisfaction with life and do not differ in the experience of somatic symptoms. Dog owners are more likely to perceive safe haven in the context of realizing attachment with their pet, they experience more positive and less negative emotional experiences, report higher overall prosperity, and fewer adverse mental symptoms compared to cat owners. Furthermore, association patterns show that dog owners who experience more disruptive somatic symptoms are also more attached to their pet, while in cat owners, attachment to a pet is associated with more negative emotional experiences and disruptive somatic and mental symptoms. Taking into account methodological limitations of the research, it is concluded that the relationship between attachment to a pet and owner’s well-being is not unambiguous, i.e., it requires a more complex analysis of possible (indirect) influences of variables relevant to well-being and socio-emotional functioning.

subjective well-being, somatic symptoms, mental symptoms, attachment to a pet

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