Dogs are well known for their therapy skills. But cats have the same bond with humans and are being recognized as having a strong role as therapy pets.
You can tell by yourself how, when petting your cat, tension leaves your body, you feel more relaxed. The feel of soft fur under your hands supplies tactile release from stress and the sound of purring is very soothing.
Of course, with all therapy pets, there are certain requirements. Cats should be able to travel without being nervous. They need to be trained to accept being in a harness and being on a leash. They need to be laid-back, accepting strangers holding and touching them. They should not be disturbed by any activity or noise or upset by any medical equipment. They must be current with vaccinations and have claws trimmed or plastic capped.
Once a cat meets all the necessary requirements, visits can be made to participating facilities such as nursing homes, hospitals, day-care centers.
Cats are also used as reading partners for children. They help relax the child who in turn improves reading skills and can overcome shyness just by having the cat to read to.
If you would like your cat to become a “therapist” ask you veterinarian or local shelter or check online for information in your area.