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Therapy Cats?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Do any of you all have "working" therapy cats? I worked at our local hospice as a clinical social worker for 10 years, and a group of therapy animals visited our inpatients each week--that group was based out of our local vet school. There was one cat in a virtual sea of dogs.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer 11 years ago, another group--in the city where I got all of my treatment--brought therapy animals to the radiation clinic. Unfortunately, all of these were dogs--and I'm just not a dog person! Now that my cancer has recurred, I'm undergoing chemotherapy. The therapy animals that visit my clinic include two cats! I got to hold a cat on my lap while I got my last infusion, and my nurse said that my blood pressure was a lot lower this time. That purring must really have done the trick! The cat who helped me is an absolute doll--she wasn't startled or frightened by anything/anyone and was receptive to all sorts of petting/handling.

I've read about a therapy cat who visits the children's hospital that's affiliated with my medical group--he's been at it for years, apparently. I guess I'm so amazed at these cats because, as sweet and wonderful and friendly as mine are, they just wouldn't want to do that job!
post #2 of 8
When I worked at the children's unit of a psychiatric hospital, the SPCA would bring therapy animals every Monday night. There was one orange cat who would wear funny costumes and perform little tricks. Unfortunately, the SPCA discontinued the program after one of our patients attempted to strangle one of the animals.
post #3 of 8
Oh dear! Tried to strangle one?? Did you strangle the person back?? Scary!!

I think that's amazing how much of a difference an animal can make to help someone feel better, almost better than the drugs themself!

I'm so glad you were able to find a kitty to help you through these hard times. I wish you the best of luck!
post #4 of 8
I don't think cats are as well-suited to be therapy animals because they're just not naturally outgoing toward strangers, for the most part. If you can find a cat that's unafraid of strangers, unafraid of strange situations, doesn't mind taking a car ride, you've found an unusual cat.

That's too bad, because I'm sure people would benefit much from interacting with a cat.

(I had visions of doing this before I got cats, but it didn't pan out.)
post #5 of 8
I'd love to get my two trained as therapy cats -- I think they'd be terrific at it, especially Oliver. They both have instincts for when people are hurting, either physically or emotionally.
post #6 of 8
dEUS is in a program from our RSPCA (well, the Dutch kind) to visit elderly people, including some with Alzheimers. He and my friend's cat are the first cats in their program, most cats are not used to being handled by unfamiliar people and leaving their familiar surroundings. Since dEUS had a show career he is used to riding in the car and being handled by strangers, so he was a good candidate for these visits.

The only thing he is not used to is that some people we meet on our visits hardly respond when he is placed on their laps, he seems to expect more interaction.
post #7 of 8
Mimosa, nice point there: show cats would be the ideal candidates for therapy cats, because they're used to being handled and being around strangers. Show cats retire at some point, don't they? Maybe this could be a second career for them.
post #8 of 8
Mine is

Here is a few photos

cerebral palsy facility

Nursing home

Not orion but a buddy of his

Not a therapy trip but representing a humane society at a exploration day for elementary students.

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