We have an office cat. His name is Crinkles...
He is a tad on the heavy side, covered in stripes, and the best thing to have on your lap on a cold winter day. There’s nothing like that warm weight emitting a rusty purr to soothe the most fragmented of work-moods, even if he does rest his chin on one’s ‘mouse-hand’, which isn’t always optimal for productivity.
I admit it: I am one of THOSE people. If it has whiskers and retractable claws and a haughty demeanor, I love it, unashamedly, no questions asked. But it’s not just me. Crinkles has the ability to weasel his chubby way into the affections of even the briefest of office visitors, and his rotund meow-y presence is often a tension-breaker.
A brief Google search on the subject (OK, maybe not so brief, and OK, maybe some cat videos were ‘accidentally’ watched in the process) shows that I’m not alone in thinking that animals in the workplace can be beneficial.
In Japan (naturally), a Tokyo internet solutions company has populated their office with nine rescue cats, and reports are that they considerably lower the staff stress levels. (To lower your own, make sure you scroll through the 'Crinkles hard at work' gallery below before you leave)
In the US, one government office has created a ‘cat library’, allowing employees to take a cat back to their desk for an hour a day. This serves the combined function of getting more rescue kittens seen and adopted than would normally be the case, as well as keeping the staff gooey with contentment.
The Humane Society of Broward County has taken this a step further, encouraging companies to ‘adopt an office cat’ – basically fostering cats as ‘temps’ until they can be adopted.
Clearly all this fuzzy is good for the creatures, but is it really a positive for the people? According to the Guardian online, studies have shown that "Pets at work can help employees to relax, reduce heart rate and lower blood pressure, which can decrease absenteeism and improve staff morale". Apparently, it’s also good for team bonding and collaboration. Just reading about it has lowered my stress levels, but then as I’ve already established, I’m ‘one of those’.