April 30 is National Therapy Animal Day! Many people think of dogs when they hear about therapy animals. Fido certainly does some amazing and life-changing work in this field. However, Fluffy is no slouch here, either. That really shouldn’t be a surprise, given that her top skills are cuddling, making us laugh, being adorable, sleeping, and catching mice. The last two aren’t particularly helpful in therapy work, but the first three definitely are. A Des Moines, IA vet discusses therapy kitties below.
The Power Of The Purr
Cuddling a purring cat can be extremely comforting when things aren’t going great. This isn’t just hyperbole: research has shown that snuggling Fluffy can relieve stress, lower our blood pressure, and improve our moods. It’s also been known for some time that interacting with our furry friends can prompt our bodies to relieve feel-good hormones, such as oxytocin and serotonin.
Become A Purrtified Therapist
While many of our feline buddies are very lovable and cuddly, becoming an official therapy kitty requires more than a love of getting petted. The exact requirements vary from organization to organization. However, the main thing is for Fluffy to be calm, affectionate, well-behaved, and unfazed by strange environments. Therapy cats also must be friendly enough to go from lap to lap, rather than picking favorites. The furball must also be at least one year old, and have been with the same owner for at least six months. Leash training is another common requirement. Last but not least, a tolerance for car travel is also important. (That one definitely narrows the field of candidates: most kitties are homebodies that immediately get upset and frightened when taken away from their kingdoms.)
Therapy cats can be found in many different places. Many work in hospices, offering comfort, cuddles, and love to those in palliative care. Fluffy may also make her rounds in children’s hospitals, putting smiles on the faces of sick or injured children. Other places therapy cats may be found include retirement homes, facilities for juvenile delinquents, assisted living facilities for the disabled, and schools. Our feline pals may also put their snuggling skills to work in private or group therapy sessions, assisting those who are dealing with addiction, trauma, PTSD, or general mental and emotional well-being.Do you have questions about your feline buddy’s health or care? Contact us, your Des Moines, IA animal clinic, today!