Therapy cats speed up the recovery of ill people and comfort those who cannot get better. Therapy cats help to heal sick people by their presence. It works because it has been scientifically proven that the presence of a cat is beneficial to a person’s general welfare.
Because a therapy cat is called upon to enter strange places and meet strangers he or she must have a suitably affable and relaxed temperament. Therefore therapy cats are very well socialised in respect of interacting with people and other animals, particularly dogs.
A therapy provides his service in places such as hospitals, hospices, retirement homes, care homes and schools of all types. Children are particularly suited to receiving the benefits of meeting, stroking and generally interacting with therapy cats.
Therapy cats are able to help enhance a person’s mood, relax a person, lower a patient’s anxiety, put a smile on a sick person’s face and provide a moment of respite and distraction from the difficulties of being a patient or a disturbed child.
Scientific studies have firmly established that a person’s blood pressure can be lowered by the presence of a cat. The cat’s purr is believed to be beneficial in the healing process through its calming sound and its frequency.
Above all the other benefits, the gentle presence of a therapy cat allows a sick person to interact with nature again, to remind her that she is part of nature, to not be frightened and to find a natural, calming solace.
There are some famous therapy cats. Although a therapy cat does not have to be famous or a special sort of cat. They are all equally special. However, one therapy cat comes to my mind, Motzie. Motzie is in America. He is a very large cat. He is a second filial (two generations from the wild) Savannah cat. At one time, the world’s second largest domestic cat. Another exotic therapy cat is a first filial Bengal cat called: Striker.
On Facebook there are many therapy cats that have their own webpage. Here are some of them:
- Dexter – registered with Pet Partners – guardian: Wendy.
- Flash – certified with Love on a Leash – guardian: Jaetta Ferguson.
- Pliny – therapy cat for Furry Friends Pet Assisted Therapy Services.
- Smokey – Pet Partners registered.
- Skylar – registered. Works in nursing homes. Raised by a foster carer who decided to adopt her.
- Seven – registered with Pet Partners.
- Pandora – a Siamese cat that is herself a special needs cat because she has a disability concerning her eyesight. She works with at-risk kids in Phoenix, Arizona, US.
- Oscar – a famous cat who lives in a hospice and comforts residents who are dying. It is said that he can predict the onset of death.
- Spagetti-Bob – tailless cat (lost tail in accident). Registered with Pet Partners. Works with Animal Humane Societies and Animal Ambassadors.
- Jake – certified therapist. Works at Fort Collins, USA.
Dylan is an English fundraising cat. I think of him as a therapy cat as well. In the US therapy cats can be registered with an organisation called Pet Partners. At the date of this post, there are about 200 registered cats.
Strictly speaking, a therapy cat does not need special training – just evaluation. A cat just has to be himself because all the goodness and healing is within all domestic cats. However, to be registered a therapy cat has to be evaluated and Pet Partners provide training as well. Not all domestic cats are suited to the role.
When writing this, it occurred to me that vets who promote declawing of cats argue that one reason is to protect the elderly and vulnerable from scratches and yet I would be very surprised if any of the therapy cats mentioned on this page were declawed. I hope not because I would expect the cat’s guardian to be sensitive enough to realise that the declawing of cats is liable to make the cat less suited to her task as a therapy cat.
Associated: Benefits of animal assisted therapy