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Cow Cuddling Reduces Stress and Anxiety

by | 6 June 2024

Move aside goat yoga! A recent study has found that cow cuddling can help reduce stress and anxiety, particularly in women. Conducted by researchers including Dr. Katherine Compitus from New York University and Dr. Sonya Bierbower from the US Military Academy West Point, the study involved 11 participants and two Holstein bulls named Magnus and Callum.

Each session lasted 45 minutes, during which the cows interacted by smelling, licking, and accepting food from the participants, who engaged in hugging, grooming, petting, or kissing the cows. The cows rarely showed unfriendly or aggressive behavior, though they occasionally declined interaction.

All participants reported positive experiences, with most recommending cow therapy. Analysis revealed the cows also had a preference for interacting with women, who also displayed stronger attachment behaviors.

Dr. Compitus highlighted the dual benefits of bovine-assisted therapy for humans and cows. Published in the journal Human-Animal Interactions, the study suggests further investigation into gender-based therapeutic effectiveness.

She said, “We have discovered in the current study that bovine-assisted therapy may not only be an effective treatment model that benefits human participants but appears to be enriching to the cattle participants as well, as shown by their proximity to and continuous interactions with humans.”

Dr. Bierbower noted cows’ unique behavioral traits that foster human bonds. The study adds to growing research into animal-assisted therapies (AAT).

AAT is often used in conjunction with other therapy methods such as psychodynamic psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.The most common AAT model, the scientists say, is when a companion animal, such as a dog or cat, is integrated into a therapeutic plan.

Despite the findings, remember that it’s probably not a good idea to try cuddling any old bull in a field…