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International Cat Day - Cats for animal assisted therapy

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018 | Blog

As today is International Cat Day, we look at why cats make such good therapy animals.

A therapy cat is trained to help humans in a medically beneficial way in order to take advantage of the human - animal interaction for the purpose of relaxation and healing. A therapy cat often provides affection and comfort to those in retirement homes, nursing homes, hospices and other care service facilities.

Although cats are a less common choice of a therapy animal, studies are showing that cats do have a positive effect on our mental health. For example, a study by the Cats Protection surveyed 600 participants where half stated they struggled with their mental health. They discovered that 87% of cat owners found their cats to have a positive effect on their well-being.

The three types of pet therapy available are; ownership therapy (when you’re the owner of the pet), visitation therapy (when pets visit nursing homes, hospitals, and community day centres to spend time with patients/residents), and animal-assisted therapy (designed to refine the patient’s physical skills and build their confidence. Having a cat isn’t right for everyone however, if you are in a good place in your life where you can have an animal, and you have the love to give, ownership therapy could be right for you.

A good therapy cat must be friendly, patient, confident, gentle, and at ease in all situations. Their temperament is very important. Therapy cats should enjoy human contact and be content when they are petted and handled, sometimes incompetently. Cats must also prove that loud noises and barking dogs do not bother them.

Therapy cats have often been used to help the recovery and wellbeing of people who have had strokes or mental health illnesses such as depression and autism. They can also help to decrease patient anxiety, increase sensory stimulation, ward off depression and inspire a "sense of purpose".

This makes cats the ideal therapy animal and a furry friend could be just what the doctor ordered. If you or a loved one feel you would benefit from cat therapy, talk to your doctor about more information and whether it is suitable for you.

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