The idea of therapy dogs is firmly entrenched in our society, but the therapy cat is a fairly new addition to the world of healing.
This is perhaps because a cat is traditionally seen as aloof and standoffish, but this couldn’t be further from the truth, and therapy cats are just starting to come into their own.
Therapy cats are felines that are especially trained to help people who are ill – either temporarily or terminally – who are addicted to harmful substances, who are depressed, who are abused and who are lonely, and they’re frequently found in hospitals, hospices, schools and similar places.
To qualify as a therapy cat, the feline must be laid-back and calm around humans, must be open to being held and cuddled and must have an affectionate nature.
Cats have been known to cause miracles, and, around them, autistic children speak, addicts recover, the sick get better quicker and the lonely, depressed and abused are given hope.
Therapy cats practice all over the world and here are only three examples of the wonders they’re performing:
Her paintings have been sold to international celebrities, and she adores music. She is also autistic, and most, if not all, of her recent successes can be laid squarely at the paws of her Maine Coon cat, Thula.
Before Thula came into her life, Iris was completely non-verbal, had severe social issues and didn’t like being outside.
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With the loving kitten’s help, the child has gained a new lease on life, loves being outdoors and handles social situations better. She is now also on top of daily tasks like getting dressed and taking a bath all because of her feline companion.
South Africa: Sebastian
Sebastian the orange tabby-and-white has a sacred duty in life: to care for the seniors living in an old age home in Cape Town, South Africa.
With his yellow bandanna, Sebastian is a familiar site at the care facility, and he and his colleague, the dog Rumba, visit with everyone they can while accompanied by their human, Andie Chandler.
Both Sebastian and Rumba are volunteers at the Pets As Therapy organization, and he has certainly chosen the right profession because he is extremely loving and affectionate and adores a cuddle!
At first glance, the hairless Sphynx known as Jak might not be everyone’s idea of a soft and cuddly therapy cat.
With his velvety skin and warm, huggable body, he does, however, make sure all that the patients he visits understand that it’s what’s in the gift, and not the wrapping, that counts.
Hairless Jak has also found the most perfect place in life: he is a therapy cat at a cancer center, and his being naturally hairless helps children and adults with cancer who are undergoing radiation and chemo-therapy know that it’s ok to be bald.