My Pet Research?
This is a place for information on participating in fun and exciting, University of Sussex based research. Our work seeks to increase understanding of the relationships humans have with companion animals, with the aim of improving both human and non-human welfare.
For now, we are focussing on the role empathy plays in our relationships with cats and dogs, both the extent to which they are capable of experiencing and demonstrating empathy towards humans, and how we interpret their behaviour and attribute them with empathic capacities.
Cats and dogs are the species we most commonly share our lives with, yet they have very different stories. Dogs have evolved living alongside humans, they are highly social and adapted to our lives. Cats in comparison, were more recently domesticated from an ancestor that is solitary. We are interested in empathy (put simply the capacity to feel what another is feeling) as it is an evolved trait in social living animals and plays a role in how we all get along together.
I trained as a vet in New Zealand and practiced in both NZ and UK for nearly 10 years while volunteering internationally. I have also worked in veterinary education and animal welfare and remain heavily involved in animal welfare charities as an advisor, educator and trustee. I have master’s degrees in applied animal behaviour and welfare, medical ethics and law, a BSc in psychology and am a resident of the European college of animal welfare and behavioural medicine.
This research forms part of my PhD at the University of Sussex, within the Mammal Communication and Cognition Group, investigating the cross-species empathy between humans and companion animals.