Cow cuddling: Cognitive considerations in bovine-assisted therapy

Katherine Compitus, Sonya M. Bierbower

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is an integrative model frequently used in conjunction with other modalities such as psychodynamic psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. The most common AAT model is when a companion animal, such as a dog or cat, is integrated into a therapeutic treatment plan. This model has been studied with a variety of populations and conditions, from treating substance abuse to autism, often with positive results. Organizations that certify therapy animals will sometimes certify several species of animals to work as a therapeutic partner, such as llamas, miniature horses, and rabbits. However, to date there has been little research addressing the therapeutic benefits of animal-assisted interventions with farm animals. Cows have special behavioral traits that allow them to bond with people in a way that is unique to their size and temperament. Using the Human-Animal Interaction Scale (HAIS) as a measurement tool, we examined the behavioral and cognitive traits of cattle who work as therapy animals. Special attention will be paid to the welfare and enrichment benefits of cattle involved in bovine-assisted therapy.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages8
JournalHuman-Animal Interactions
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 22 2024


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