Associations among attitudes towards motherhood, pet-keeping, and postpartum depression symptoms

Andrea Temesi, Nóra Bunford, Ádám Miklósi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Certain companion animals’ relationship to humans is analogous to child–parent attachment. Further, pet-keeping is associated with less physical and psychological health problems and animal-assisted interventions ameliorate depressive symptoms. Accordingly, cognitive representations of pet-keeping and parenthood may be related, and pet-keeping may protect against postpartum depression symptoms (PPDS). To test these hypotheses, we examined cognitive representations of pet-keeping and motherhood as well as various cognitive correlates of those in 715 women in an online questionnaire. Results indicate that among women who perceive maternity as a burdensome role, pet ownership is associated with an increased likelihood of having had PPDS. Among women with children, pet owners perceive maternity as more burdensome than non-owners and pet owners with a more positive attitude towards their pets are more likely to find maternity as a burdensome role. These findings suggest a relationship between women’s thoughts regarding pets and motherhood and also that, to some degree, women perceive pets as playing a similar role as children. Importantly, childless women who own a pet perceived motherhood as less difficult; this effect of pet-keeping can be capitalized upon in the treatment of women whose psychological characteristics play a role in their infertility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-164
Number of pages12
JournalBiologia Futura
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Cognitive representation
  • Depression
  • Motherhood
  • Pet-keeping
  • Postpartum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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