Cats as therapy for people with special needs

More people should consider cats as therapy for people with special needs. Billy the cat and Fraser the autistic boy are an excellent example.

Five year old Fraser Booth is autistic. His anxieties and tantrums spoiled his life and his prospects in life. His parents were told that he would never attend mainstream school. Billy did make his first day at mainstream school. It was thanks to Billy, a bicolor grey and white cat rescued from a council house1 two years ago.

Fraser hated having his hair washed in the bath. It was impossible. Billy put his paws on the side of the bath and this calmed Fraser. Hair washing become an OK thing.

Meal times were stressful and times for tantrums. Billy sat beside him and calmed Fraser. Less stress, less tantrums. More eating. Bedtimes were flashpoints. Now there are less flashes and more snoozes thanks to Billy.

Two specific things soothe Fraser:

  1. Billy presses his head against Fraser’s (this is probably scent exchange head butting) and
  2. Billy’s purr. Fraser likes to lie close to Billy with his head next to Billy so he can hear his purr. This is the famous power-of-the-purr working its magic again and in a very charming and beautiful way. The purr is said to heal because of its frequency.

This is a magical story of the power of the puss. Purrrrfection. Therapy cats are well known at hospitals and hospices. This is an example of full-time around the clock cat therapy that has had a dramatically positive effect on the life of a special needs boy.

And there is also the beauty of the relationship itself. What a wonderful sight it is. Close companions, one helping the other.

Notes:

  1. For international visitors “council house” means a house owned by the local government and rented out below market value.
  2. The photo is copyright Bruce Adams and taken from the Sunday Times. If anyone wishes to complain please contact me and I’ll respond quickly.
  3. A book is due to be published next month: When Fraser Met Billy: The Rescue Cat that Transformed a Little Boy’s Life.
Please comment here using either Facebook or WordPress (when available).
Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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    • Just a quick reminder that I will be publishing Cassy's in memory page in about 10-12 hours. Thanks for your patience.

    • Hey Kylee it didn't upload - it sometimes happens, maybe you can re-try.
      Cassy is a lovely name. I'm sure she was a very sweet cat. I think about my Red everyday.

  • hi just wandered if there was a special section where could say goodbye to pets. My cassy cat of 10 yrs died the other day she was having neurlogical probs and in alot of pain. Been very traumatic and miss her soo much. Have laid her to rest

    • Hi Kylee. I have emailed you in response to your email, for which I thank you, and will publish your page tomorrow.

    • Hey Kylee I'm sorry for your loss. Sounds like Cassy passed away not long ago. That's very hard to deal with. When I lost my cat Red I was unable to eat or go out and do things normally for about one solid month. It was and is a huge loss which I am still not over a year and a half later. I'm so sorry you lost her too soon - 10 is a little young.

      Sounds like you were very close. I'm sure you feel a huge empty Cassy sized space in your heart. But she will always be with you and you will never lose her. It's so hard. It helps to write about it. I made a memorial page to my cat Red on this website. It's a nice idea to do and I for one always care to learn about a wonderful cat who has left this world. Infact whenever I read about a cat who passed away and there is a photo I save the photo to my desktop and I find I look back over them. Beautiful cats I never knew and learn't a little about. Sometimes I wonder if my thinking about them keeps them in this world in some small way - but obviously if it's your cat then she will have a very large presence in your mind.

      I hope you are going to be ok. Thanks for sharing.

      • Thank you so much. Yes it was quite a shock as it happened suddenly. Its been hard the last few days. Grief is a hard emotional i know shes at a better place. thank you all for your support its great to come to a community of pet lovers who have been with similar things

        • Great picture. Kylee the reason why the earlier photos failed to upload is because they were too large. The max, is 2 megabytes (2m). Anyway no problem now because I have your pictures.

    • Hi Kylee, if you leave another longer comment about your Cassy and upload a photo, I'll convert that to a page in Memory of Cassy. Or you email me at m@pictures-of-cats.org and I'll publish from that. Sorry to hear about the passing of Cassy.

    • I think it is a superb story and very strong evidence of how a cat can provide a calming influence over people and in this case a child. Think of all the kids in the UK (about 400,000) who have been diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Perhaps they could benefit.

  • A lovely story, poor little troubled lad I'm glad that Fraser has found a friend and comforter in Billy, I can well believe that the love of Billy helps to soothe Fraser, we know ourselves that if we're upset our cats can be very tender with us, cats instinctively know when someone needs feline TLC, two good things have happened here, Billy was rescued and in turn repaid that kindness by helping Fraser.

      • Cat haters never seem satisfied with good things like this, they always find something else to gripe about :-(

        • I loved the way that Fraser found Billy's purr calming. That was instinctive and Fraser was naturally drawn to the purr almost like a kitten. Lovely.

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