Office Cats: Japanese Company 'Hires' Kitties as Stress Relievers

PetMD Editorial
Published: June 16, 2017
Share this:

Pet-friendly offices are becoming more prevalent all over the world. Take, for instance, Ferray, an IT firm in Tokyo, Japan, which has an "office cat" policy that encourages employees to bring in their feline friends. 

According to Channel NewsAsia, nine cats currently purr, cuddle, play, and sleep at the Ferray office. The initiative, which was started by Hidenobu Fukuda, who heads the firm, also offers an incentive to employees who adopt a rescue cat. (Employees get a 5,000 yen a month bonus for their good deed.) 

Like other offices that are pet-friendly, Ferray has its furry companions on site to help relieve anxiety and create a less stressful work environment. Although, as Fukuda noted, sometimes the kitties "will walk on a phone and cut off the call, or they shut down the computers by walking onto the off switch." (A pretty adorable inconvenience, if you ask us.) 

Dr. Heather Loenser, the veterinary advisor for professional and public affairs for the American Animal Hospital Association, knows firsthand the benefits of having a cat around the workplace. At both the AAHA, as well as her practice at Bridgewater Veterinary Hospital in New Jersey, the kitties who work side-by-side with Loesner help out in ways big and small, from accompanying you to the copy machine to soothing anxious guests. 

"Cats tend to bring a certain calm to the room, whether they’re walking across the conference room table or sitting on a lap," Loesner said. "Practically speaking, they’re smaller and quieter, which makes them lovely colleagues." 

Research has shown the positive impact that animals can have on humans, particularly when it comes to dealing with stress, depression, and anxiety, all of which can translate to an office setting. "It’s hard to be stressed when petting a cat," Loesner pointed out. "They use their 'kitty magic' to induce a sense of calm. Scientifically speaking, there’s data to show that they decrease our blood pressure and heart rate." 

However, for people who do bring their cats to work, Loesner urged all pet parents to take proper care of them in this environment as well. "Cats should be allowed to stretch their legs, have access to a clean litter box, and a place to hide if they need to take a break," she said. "Coworkers shouldn’t offer treats or food to pets that don’t belong to them due to concerns of food allergies or causing stomach upset." 

Pet parents participating in an office cat initiative should discuss any liability issues with their HR department and make sure their cat is the right fit, Loesner recommended. If your kitty companion displays "signs of fear or aggression," she may just be better suited at home. 

"Pets should be vetted for behavioral and physical health issues before they start their work of de-stressing us," Loesner said. 

If your cat passes these tests and she is suited for the 9-to-5 lifestyle, get ready to have a co-worker who brings a sense of cute calm and cuddly camaraderie. 

Image via Shutterstock 

Read more: 3 Benefits of Pets in the Workplace