Cat Chow Wants You To Think Therapy Cats, Not Dogs

Category: Therapy Cat, Cat-Human Bond

Purina Cat Chow wants you to think therapy cats, not dogs. There’s a reason for this. A new Cat Chow study found that cats can be “purrfect” therapy animals, too. The research shows that humans consider their cats wonderful companions who improve their physical and mental health. This information prompted Cat Chow to team up with Pet Partners to increase the number of therapy cats available to visit people who need them. Do you live with a potential therapy cat? Keep reading to find out.

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Speed Read

Not all cats make good therapy cats

Ginger makes herself right at home on the dollhouse on a neighbor’s porch. Fortunately, the neighbor likes cats!

As I’m typing, Ginger is sitting on a counter scowling at me. A minute ago, she was rubbing against me and purring. Now, she wants to shred my arms into ribbons. She can turn on a dime from sweet, cuddly kitty to a ferocious tiny tiger with multicolored long hair. A therapy cat she’s not!

But like most of the cat moms in Purina’s study, I adore her. And she does improve my mental and physical health. When several claws aren’t stuck in my arm. Her eccentricities and determination to be exactly who she wants to be no matter what humans and the other cats think makes me laugh, and as they say, laughter is the best medicine.

In the Cat Chow study, 85 percent of the people interviewed said their cats provide therapeutic benefits. Eighty-six percent said living with a cat improves their quality of life. And 94 percent said most people could benefit from spending time with a cat.

But cat people tend to suffer from hurt feelings. Three-quarters of the people who participated in the survey said society doesn’t appreciate the benefits of living with a cat. 

The survey results prompted Purina Cat Chow to team up with Pet Partners, a national therapy animal program, to increase awareness and advocacy for cats as therapy animals. The brand also made a $30,000 donation to help fund training and registering therapy cats.

Do You Live With A Therapy Cat?

Some cats, like Katie, are therapy cats for just one person.

Katie’s my therapy cat.

Katie is my personal therapy cat. She knows when my fragile back hurts and curls up against it and purrs. When I can’t sleep, she stretches out beside me and purrs in a different way. Although she has little to no interest in science, she’d be happy to know that cats purr in the range that relieves pain, promotes healing and lowers human blood pressure.

But she wouldn’t want to be anyone else’s therapy cat. She’s way too shy to visit nursing home residents or classrooms. Above all else, therapy cats need to be confident and love being touched and hanging out with people, even people they don’t know.

Here’s a portrait of the perfect therapy cat.

Therapy Cat In Training

Being the perfect therapy cat doesn’t always come naturally. But with some patience and training, your cat can become one. These are the most important things to work on.

Therapy Cats At Work

Once you’re certified and your cat is trained, you’ll find lots of places where you can volunteer. Therapy cats don’t just visit nursing home residents. Some physical and occupational therapists at rehabilitation facilities ask them to help patients improve fine motor control, gain motion in their limbs and regain the skills they need to care for their own animal companions at home.

Therapy cats can also help children with developmental disabilities. And they visit detention facilities, hospitals and rehabilitation facilities.

Wherever you volunteer, don’t overdo it. Helping total strangers is a lot of work for a cat, and yours will need breaks between workdays. Volunteering two or three days a month will probably be more than enough for her. And she’ll want lots of treats and need a long nap after each visit.

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