Are Cats Good Therapy Animals and How to Train Them: Requirements and Certificate
Do you know anything about therapy animals? They are often confused with emotional support animals, so before answering the question “can a cat be a therapy animal or not”, we want to emphasize the difference between these two categories. In the first one, the pet is specially trained to provide assistance to different people and in different places, and the second, emotional support is provided to the owner of the animal without any training. Sometimes an animal therapist is compared to a guide dog, and we have to admit that this is a pretty good comparison, because they also train specifically to help a certain category of people. If guide cats do not exist, then therapy cats exist. Below, we will tell you everything you need to know about them!
What Is a Therapy Cat?
The therapy cat is a specially trained pet who can professionally provide medical, emotional, and physical assistance to people in need. For example, it is common practice to call cats as therapy pets to the pediatric oncology unit and nursing homes. They help their companions during the most stressful times for them. It is worth noting that dogs in this role began to be used much earlier, but cats are calmer animals, which makes them ideal partners for people whose activity is reduced due to illness.
How to Get a Therapy Cat and What Can It Do?
If you want your cat to help not only you cope with life’s difficulties, then you need to seriously think about training your pet. If you do not have a cat yet, then it is better to adopt a kitten, because, at a young age, it would be more prone to training. However, do not think that you would be able to provide assistance along with your pet as two superheroes, because first your cat must get approval, otherwise you would be allowed to provide only emotional support. At first, people were skeptical about such therapists, and then they were happy that they got involved in such an adventure. Scientists have shown that touching for a few minutes can help reduce stress and improve well-being. And the cat’s purr for most people has a calming effect. How to get a cat certified as a therapy animal? Google the organization closest to you that provides professional therapy cat training and the further development of a team of feline therapists. Therapy cat must meet the requirements, which may vary slightly from organization to organization. For example, some of them require:
- the pet’s age is at least a year;
- lack of aggression towards people and other pets;
- the pet must live with you for at least half a year;
- the cat must be accustomed to the leash, etc.
You would need to fill out a questionnaire on the official website of your chosen organization. Then you and your pet would be tested for eligibility. And only then the training and the final exam would begin. Of course, training is paid. In order to get a certificate, you also need to pay a mandatory fee. Without this document, no one would allow your pet to treat people, even if you have been trained by the best trainers, because this is an official permission document. This is usually around $100 and up. There is also a trial period, which usually lasts 1-2 months. By the way, both you and your cat undergo training, because you would play the role of a guide when the pet comes into contact with other people.
Are Cats Good Therapy Animals?
Cat therapy for humans can be used in hospitals, nursing homes, rehab facilities, etc., to provide comfort and support to patients. Psychologists and speech therapists also often use such cats in their practice during sessions. You can find thousands of stories about how cats were able to help a girl with emotional problems or a man during chemotherapy. This is the most striking confirmation that cats are no less suitable for the mission of rescuers than dogs. Why cats are good therapy animals? They can form strong bonds and affection, so if you meet your feline savior again, it would recognize you. According to one research, about 30% of patients were attached to cats, and they responded with the same reciprocity – they met patients at the door, slept with them, etc. Cats are not biased, and they do not care what kind of ailment you have, can you speak good or what nationality you are, because they give their support to people who have a good heart.
How Are Cats Trained for Therapy?
Of course, we will not be able to tell you the secrets of the training program, but we can assure you that special methods are absolutely safe for animals and each cat undergoes a careful selection by age, vaccination, and sterilization, etc. Most programs strongly recommend before signing up for a course and receive certificates to improve the skills of your cat:
This is the basic upbringing, without which you can’t become a therapy cat, so it’s never too late to get better.
It’s great if you and your pet want to help people who are going through hard times but do not forget about the health of your pet. Before filling out an application on the Internet, be sure to conduct a full examination of your pet and make sure that it is healthy. By the way, your veterinarian can advise you on a good trainer and how to get the required certification. If your cat already has such a certificate, then share in the comments where you got it and which organization helped you!
- If you would be a cat you would say Meow* (happy sound)
- If you would be a cat you would say HRR* (angry sound)