Therapy cats are trained to offer healing and relaxation via the human-animal interaction. They offer medical, emotional and physical help to ailing humans. Here is more on preferred breeds, certification and potential recipients for therapy cats.
- Cat Ownership
- Therapy Cats
- Recipients of Therapy Cats
- Autistic Children
- Persons or children with hearing and speech problems
- Children with allergies
- Patients in hospitals
- Patients in nursing homes
- Alzheimer’s and dementia patients
- Stroke patients and persons with an injury
- People with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, sleeping disorder.
- Patients with anxiety problems
- Grieved persons
- Prisoners, drug addicts, and juveniles.
- The Major Use of Therapy Cats
- Therapy Cats Breeds
- Somali Cats
- Certification Process for Therapy Cats
Research has proved that owning a pet has mental and physical health benefits to humans. When we care for something or someone, the brain releases oxytocin hormone which helps to create stronger bonds and improve relations. The majority of homes do own cats as they are friendly and can be well domesticated.
Cats are delightful pets that are often highly adaptable. They are moderately independent. Their levels of dependency are greatly influenced by their owner’s level of interaction.
Research shows that the human –pet interaction has healing and relaxing powers. For persons experiencing social, emotional, mental and physical disorders, the use of trained cats helps to provide relief.
Therapy cats are repeatedly held, exposed to noisy and crowded environments during training. This allows them to acclimatize them with their new environments.
Recipients of Therapy Cats
These children may have difficulties adapting to different environments; therapy cats offer a comfortable, open environment for such children.
Persons or children with hearing and speech problems
Cats have a very high sense of hearing even better than humans (twenty-four extra muscles). They are able to react quickly to subtle forms of sounds that may be expressed by such persons.
Children with allergies
Kids that are exposed early to therapy cats tend to have better protection from basic allergies to grass, ragweed and dust mites
Patients in hospitals
Cats have great sensors and are able to detect seizures and glucose levels in patients and can thus alert hospital staff.
Patients in nursing homes
Cats are able to detect death anxiety and offer emotional support to the patients. They cuddle to offer comfort.
Alzheimer’s and dementia patients
The release of oxytocin hormone creates a bonding feeling which in turn arouses memory while deducing forgotten ones. When cats are stroked and are comfortable, they tend to purr. This creates a relaxed, affectionate atmosphere.
Stroke patients and persons with an injury
Feeding and interacting with therapy cats allows the patients to move their muscles and joints and this can hasten the healing process. The stroking also improves the hand –eye coordination
People with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, sleeping disorder.
The therapy cats offer emotional support as the patients feel a sense of love. Cats express love by wagging their tails, snuggling closer or purring which is comforting.
Patients with anxiety problems
Cats are emotionally stable even with patients who are highly agitated. They remain calm and can influence how their “owners” react to situations.
A therapy cat is often very calm, and this allows persons who are mourning to express their feelings without fear of judgment. Unlike dogs that may express pain through crying, cats rarely do so, and it makes it possible to talk without expecting pity.
Prisoners, drug addicts, and juveniles.
Therapy cats are gentle and calm in nature. The stroking and snuggling of cats fur help to reduce rage, stress, and antagonism in prisoners. They offer a warm, non-judgmental environment that comforts prisoners.
The Major Use of Therapy Cats
Offer distraction due to their playful and social nature, and when playing with humans, they do offer the much-needed exercise.
Are independent and do not require too much attention hence reduce stress related to caregiving.
Lower anxiety through petting which automatically relaxes an individual and they might reduce the number of medications they take to deal with anxiety.
Lower blood pressure as an individual is calm due to their friendly nature. They also help to keep the triglyceride levels in check which are vital for human life. The triglyceride helps the body to maximize on unused calories stored in the body and keep us energetic in between meals.
They improve mood and emotions as they increase the release of serotonin and dopamine hormones that regulate moods, anxiety levels and improve happiness level. Serotonin is produced when humans no longer feel depressed or lonely. Cats offer such comfort.
Therapy Cats Breeds
Ragdolls are relatively huge, social cats that love to cuddle. They often follow their “owners” around, and for persons experiencing loneliness, this is a great booster.
Abyssinians are athletic and slightly slender. Their high level of intelligence makes them very fast at learning tricks and thus tend to interact better with adults and older children so that they learn. They have a life expectancy of fifteen years or more.
Persians – these cats are short in stature but muscular with small ears, round eyes, and a short nose. They adapt well to different environments, and this makes good for hospitals.
American short hair soft-voiced level tempered cats that are highly independent but offer excellent companionship. They have a life expectancy of fifteen years.
Sphynx – this particular breed of cat is hairless, and the lack of hair makes it have very low body temperature making it always to snuggle, are very loyal and likes to be cuddle. Their general lack of hair nature makes them have an awesome personality and cuddling behavior.
Himalayan cats are short bodied, lovable and calm natured. Though they may become a bit attached to the “owner,” they surprisingly don’t crave for too much attention. They are highly intelligent and can sense emotions and offer the occasional “talk.”
Korat – a special breed that is very friendly to children and dedicated to the handler. An attention lover and a bit bossy, this cat oozes confidence and can work well with children or adults that have self-esteem issues.
Maine Coone –slightly larger than the normal breed of cats, they are lovable, friendly and loves snuggling and are good for therapy.
They are very flexible, friendly to people and have an awesome personality. They tend to be very playful and are best suited for patients who require exercises. This particular cat enjoys puzzles and can adapt well to training. They have a life expectancy of 12 years.
Certification Process for Therapy Cats
The training process of cat therapy certification requires that the cats meet minimum requirements that generally vary within the certification organizations. The cat should at least meet these requirements:
- The cat should be one year or above
- Reside with the handler for at least six months
- Fully vaccinated
- Level temperament and not easily agitated.
- The cat should be very social. He should not be afraid of strangers. He will be exposed to constant petting by different individuals.
- Should not show repeated aggression towards people and other animals.
- The cat should be highly adaptable to new circumstances without
- A gentle cat that loves to cuddle.
- The cat should be a confident cat.
- Should be emotionally dependent.
- Intelligent and highly trainable and can be able to enjoy puzzles, mild training and at times offer a “listening ”
Cats should not be on a raw protein diet as they are likely to develop toxoplasmosis, a parasite infection that develops from consuming the undercooked meat of from cat feces. Immunosuppressed patients at the hospital are at a higher risk of infection if they do come into contact with infected cat’s feces.
Cats use their tongue to clean their bodies after every meal and so are generally clean. To avoid infection and spread of toxoplasmosis, therapy cats should have enough training on litter box use.
After meeting the required statutory obligations most cat therapy certification bodies will train the cat handler or both the cat and the handler for accreditation.