I have followed Sparkle the Designer Cat for some time now and was so sad to hear that she was so very sick. I fear that as of this writing, she is no longer with us. She wrote a couple of posts in anticipation of this, including one introducing her “replacement” gift for her human, Summer.
Sparkle’s human had been looking for some time for a cat that could be a therapy cat. Now this intrigued me. Of course, I have heard of therapy dogs and I am involved in equine therapy. I have even thought about raising puppies for the blind but fear I would have such a hard time letting them go. But a therapy cat? Although it is no surprise to me that cats make wonderful therapy pets, I had never really thought about it. So, I did some research.
Research shows that felines can relieve stress and lower blood pressure, and studies have found that the hormone oxytocin is released when we’re around pets, triggering feelings of happiness.
What are the Requirements to become a Therapy Cat?
Right off the bat, I learned that my cats would not qualify as I feed them a raw diet. Somehow, the thing that is best for them is not good for the humans. A raw diet puts people — especially those with compromised immune systems — at a higher risk for infection. Hmm… I’m on chemotherapy. Should I not be making raw food for my cats? I know I am not supposed to be eating anything raw myself. A definite question for my oncology team!
Other than the diet requirement and a few age and time requirements, it all seems to boil down to the cat’s temperament. The cat needs to be laid back and friendly, non-aggressive, and comfortable with loud noises and unpredictable situations. The cat must walk on a leash.
A variety of organizations give training and certify pet therapy teams both in person and online. Pet Partners and Love On A Leash are two of the largest, but some areas also have local organizations.
So what do you think? Do you know a therapy cat? Do you have a cat that you think would do an awesome job? Tell us in the comments.
More info on therapy cats and getting therapy cats certified:Cats As Therapy Animals? Here’s How To Get Your Feline Certified How to Get Your Cat Certified as a Therapy Cat ASPCA Animal Assisted Therapy Programs Pet Partners Therapy Animal Program • Frequently Asked Questions