UK Parliament: Did you know that there is an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cats (APGOCATS)? I didn’t until this morning. It is a group of Parliamentarians – Members of Parliament, Peers and associated organisations – whose objective to further cat welfare. APGOCATS “seeks to support discussion and debate about what the public, politicians and the government can do to further feline welfare”.
They have promoted the idea that rescue cats could be “prescribed” to lonely and isolated people. They rightly suggest that spending time with a cat alleviates a sense of isolation and loneliness.
In practical terms the “prescribing” of cats like a medicine could be carried out by fostering or volunteering at an animal rescue or of course adopting a cat. There is a possible third way: renting a cat! That sounds mad but Mark Twain did it and he recommended it. The idea is that a person looks after a cat for a fixed time. The barrier to success would be the difficulties that cats have of adapting quickly to new environments. If they are anxious they can’t be at their best as a companion to a lonely person.
Kittens are fearless and much less likely to be a problem. They are less likely to feel attached to a territory because they have have not left the natal home range and set up home in their own home range (to use wild cat language). This means they don’t have to get used to a new home.
Also some more confident rescue cats settle in to new homes relatively quickly. You just have to filter out the confident cats. These are the cats who sometimes become therapy cats. Therapy cats have to be able to feel relaxed in the company of strangers all the time. They are both inherently confident and acclimatised to being with strange people which is something that most cats find uncomfortable.
I like the idea of “prescribing cats” for lonely people. It just needs a refined approach to make it work. You can email APGOCATS. Visit their webpage to do so (note: sometimes links to outside websites break). Cat lovers should know that this group exists. It may be possible to use their skills and authority to promote projects concerned with cat welfare.
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