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Cats and dogs have the power to alleviate our stress. All we have to do is play with them.

Researchers from Washington State University divided 249 college students into four groups. The first was permitted to pet and play with cats and dogs for 10 minutes. The second observed other people pet the animals while they waited in line for their turn. The third watched a slideshow featuring pictures of the animals. And the fourth was put on a waitlist to play with the animals.

Additionally, the research team collected saliva samples to measure each participants’ cortisol levels, which indicate stress, both before and after the experiment. 

Researchers saw that participants who played with the animals had significantly lower cortisol levels after the interaction. 

These findings show that playing with cats and dogs reduces stress. Researchers say this is exciting as stress reduction can have significant benefits for our physical and mental health. 


Pendry, P. Vandagriff, J. L. (2019, June 12). Animal Visitation Program (AVP) Reduces Cortisol Levels of University Students: A Randomized Controlled Trial. AERA. Retrieved from

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett is Senior Writer and Editor at Thriveworks. She devotes herself to distributing important information about mental health and wellbeing, writing mental health news and self-improvement tips daily. Taylor received her bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism, with minors in professional writing and leadership from Virginia Tech. She is a co-author of Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book and has published content on Thought Catalog, Odyssey, and The Traveling Parent.

Check out “Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book” written by AJ Centore and Taylor Bennett."

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