Researchers study cats to help children with autism

5 months 3 weeks 2 days ago November 04, 2016 Nov 4, 2016 Friday, November 04 2016 Friday, November 04, 2016 1:03:00 PM CDT in News
By: Emma Frazier, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - You've heard of therapy dogs, or even therapy horses. But the Thompson Center for Autism is trying a different avenue for animals who can help people.

The Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction, or ReCHAI, is working on a program called Feline Friends to study how cats can help children with autism.

ReCHAI Director Rebecca Johnson said Feline Friends teams up shelter cats with families of children with autism.

"We'd like to learn to what extent having a pet, such as a cat, which is a nice quiet, soft companion animal, is beneficial for children's social interaction and anxiety," Johnson said.

ReCHAI Post Doctoral Fellow Gretchen Carlisle said this study will benefit both the families and the cats.

"All the cats in this study will be permanently adopted by the families, so this will give the cats an opportunity to have a forever home," Carlisle said.

"One of the important things about this study is that cats have not been studied as much as other animals, and we would like to provide more information for families of children with autism because the match of an animal as a companion is so important to have positive benefits in these families that are stressed and have so many risks," Carlisle said.

Johnson said some studies have been done with other animals, but usually not cats.

"Many studies have engaged dogs, and there has been a fair bit of research on horseback riding for children with autism," Johnson said. "Sometimes, a soft, quiet animal is more beneficial for children with autism because dogs can often be exuberant and kind of in your face, whereas a cat is a more quiet companion and is less demanding of your attention and your time."

Dr. Casey Clay, a behavior analyst at the Thompson Center, said it's working with children on improving deficits.

"Some typical symptoms of autism are deficits in social communication areas," Clay said. "Also, we see a lot of repetitive and restricted interests."

The Thompson Center currently has one facility dog named Rhett.

ReCHAI is trying to raise $29,000 to fund Feline Friends. Donations can be made here.

More News

Grid
List
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Gov. Eric Greitens has bought a lakeside house in a resort community west of St. Louis.... More >>
1 hour ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 9:14:38 AM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The maternal grandmother of a 7-year-old Kansas boy whose remains were found in a pigsty... More >>
1 hour ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 9:09:00 AM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - A free carnival-style event Saturday aims to combine fun with education about childhood safety and accident prevention. The... More >>
2 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 7:44:00 AM CDT in News
FULTON – Equestrian students at William Woods University have the unique opportunity to learn from a living legend April 28-30.... More >>
4 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 5:53:00 AM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - According to a Columbia Police Department press release, officers arrested a suspect wanted by the St. Louis Police... More >>
6 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 4:12:00 AM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Close to 25 environmental activists from mid-Missouri boarded a bus bound for Washington, D.C. Friday afternoon headed to... More >>
15 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 7:35:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
COLUMBIA - The Missouri Department of Public Safety is preparing to respond to potential dangerous flooding in the forecast beginning... More >>
15 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 7:20:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
JEFFERSON CITY - As prom season begins, the Jefferson City Police Department will start sending out more officers to monitor... More >>
15 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 7:01:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Fatal accidents involving drugged driving have surpassed those involving drunk driving, according to a new study from... More >>
17 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 5:36:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Thousands of workers in St. Louis are preparing to see a jump in pay now that... More >>
18 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 4:27:00 PM CDT in News
FULTON - Autopsy results confirmed the body found by the Fulton Police Department Monday is 31-year-old Carl L. DeBrodie, the... More >>
18 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 3:51:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Some Columbia utility customers are complaining because of recent past due notices sent out for the month of... More >>
19 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 3:29:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Lincoln University’s Board of Curators announced Thursday it will suspend tenure and earned advancements for its faculty.... More >>
19 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 3:24:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Four teenagers were taken to the hospital Friday morning following a vehicle crash on I-70, according to the... More >>
19 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 2:58:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA – Music enhances and develops the life of 20-year-old Nathan Walton on a daily basis. "I play a... More >>
20 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 2:01:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA – Missouri Task Force 1 sent a team to Southern Missouri to help with the possible flooding in the... More >>
20 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 2:01:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - The UM System Board of Curators approved amendments to the University of Missouri-Columbia's collected rules governing faculty standards... More >>
21 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 1:32:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - The pollen count in Missouri is the highest it has been in ten years, but that might not... More >>
21 hours ago April 28, 2017 Apr 28, 2017 Friday, April 28 2017 Friday, April 28, 2017 1:23:00 PM CDT in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 57°
11am 58°
12pm 58°
1pm 58°
2pm 57°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

10:30a
Wilderness Vet
11:00a
Journey with Dylan Dreyer
11:30a
English Premier League Soccer
10:30a
Vacation Creation
11:00a
Save to Win
11:30a
Unlikely Animal Friends

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs
7:00p
Family Guy
7:30p
Family Guy
8:00p
Bob's Burgers
8:30p
Bob's Burgers
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld