Ever wonder if your cat could become a therapy cat?
Every animal lover is aware of the unique healing power that our furry friends have. We’ve even written a whole post dedicated to the Mental Health Benefits of Having Cats Particularly.
Cats provide comfort, love and support. They can help us deal with stress. And science has shown that these effects aren’t just in our heads; animals can lower our blood pressure Improve our heart health They can even assist us with psychological issues like PTSD.
But have you ever looked at your feline friend and wondered… Can my cat become a therapy cat? What does therapy cat actually do? And how can I get my cat therapy certificate?
This guide to therapy cats will help answer all your questions and give you an idea of what life as a therapy cat handler might look like. Whether it’s to train up your own emotional support companion or to fulfill your wish of becoming a therapy cat volunteer.
The Lowdown on Therapy Cats
- Cats provide some unique benefits as Therapy animals. They are most effective because of their low maintenance and low energy levels.
- There are two types of therapy cats — Certified Therapy Cats and Emotional Support Animals (ESA).
- Certified Therapy Cats are specially trained to comfort, support, heal, and heal those in care facilities and clinical settings.
- You will need to have your cat for therapy. Eligibility will be determined.This ensures that they are able to communicate with the applicant in a way that is appropriate for them.
- Once you have been approved, you will be enrolled in a training program to become a therapy cat.
- Not all cats are qualified to become registered therapy animals. But this doesn’t mean they can’t still have a positive effect on the lives of others.
- To support your emotional wellbeing, you can register your cat with the Emotional Support Animal Registry. This will give them the right to accompany and assist you in all aspects of your life.
- To do this, you’ll need a letter from a Registered health professional — such as a doctor, therapist, or psychiatrist.
Let’s dive deep into why cats make great therapy animals, what their job looks like and how you can certify a therapy cat or get involved yourself.
What is a Therapy Cat and How Does It Work?
These specially trained cats and their handlers are similar to therapy animals such as therapy horses and service dogs. Offer comfort, support and healing to those who are in dire need.
They will be able to provide a calm presence and can travel to new places. They will be able provide companionship in unusual settings and remain calm during medical emergencies.
What do Therapy Cats Do?
Therapy cats are often found in a range of clinical settings, care facilities & group therapy centers. Including:
- Nursing homes
- Centers for intellectual disabilities
- Autism Centres
- Rehabilitation centers for drug and alcohol addiction
- Patients in recovery from injury/illness
- End-of-life hospices
- Seniors living with Alzheimer’s
- Groups who have been through crises
They can be used to help anyone, including children and seniors, with a variety of psychological and physical issues. They provide playtime, cuddles, as well as a soothing presence.
Therapy animals are used in this way.Reduce stress, loneliness, anxiety, depression Encourage physical movement and playful joy.
Cat owners can train their feline companions to be their therapy animal on a daily basis. This is called an emotional support animal.
Why are Cats Therapeutic?
Although therapy is largely focused on dogs, we are able to offer therapy for all animals. Feline friends offer a variety of unique benefits That makes them extra special:
- For those with severe mental or mood disorders, cats can provide comfort and gentle support.
- Many kitties can sleep up 18 hours a day, which makes them ideal snuggling partners for those who aren’t able to be very active.
- A hospice care A study showed that cats can reduce loneliness and provide comfort.
- Another study It was found that companionship can be a great way to increase wellbeing, especially for those who live alone.
- This study It was found that cats can reduce anxiety in autistic children, making them ideal for low-stimulus therapy animals.
- Another study It was found that elderly cat owners had the lowest levels of depression, which is encouraging for their use in nursing homes.
- Amazingly, it is possible to do this study The results showed that pet ownership was equated to after a serious medical condition. lower levels of depression. Patients with ongoing serious health issues may find their use extremely beneficial.
- That special purr we all adore? Well, researchers Studies have shown that cats purr between 25 Hz and 150 Hz. This frequency has been proven to improve healing, strength, mobility, and the health of joints and bones. Isn’t that incredible!
We love Fluffy Yoda’s ability to radiate calmness, which is something we absolutely love! Even though he has recently been diagnosed with cancer, he is still able to exude a calm aura. cancer treatment Yoda is a great example of how supportive cats can really be. They are able to enjoy the simple pleasures in life so freely.
What makes a great therapy cat?
Here are some things to keep in mind. Make sure your cat and you are both ready for this step:
- Are all the necessary vaccinations up-to-date for your cat?? To be considered for a training program, all therapy cats must have current shots.
- Are they comfortable wearing a harness? Therapy animals are often required to wear a harness and leash when they work.
- Are they confident in their new environment? You might try a few trials to see how your cat reacts when you take him on adventures and meet new people.
- Is your cat content to travel?Are they able to travel in safety and security?
- Are they old enough?Most organizations require cats to be at least one year old. The handler must have had the animal for at minimum six months before they can qualify.
- Are they the right personality type?The ideal therapy cat is friendly, laidback, and easygoing with all animals.
- Are they used for frequent handling? Senior cats are often great therapy animals because they are used to human interaction.
- Are they eating raw food? Therapy animals should not be given raw food, as this could increase the chance of them introducing bacteria to environments of immuno-compromised individuals.
Your cat should be socialized with other animals to increase your chances of getting your certification. You should also familiarize your cat with unfamiliar sounds and places. Start with basic obedience trainingYou can also hire a professional trainer to help you build desirable behavior in your cat.
Equally, if you want to get a therapy cat but don’t yet own a furball of your own, keep the above in mind when choosing an adoptee or kitten to add to your home. Look for a gentle, calm kitten or cat instead of a lively or boisterous one.
This will increase your chances of being accepted on a training course, and also the chance of completing the course successfully!
How to Certify a Therapy Cat
You might be able to wonder if your cat meets the above criteria. How to get your cat therapy certificate.There are many options and organizations that can help you train your therapy cat or register it officially.
The training and certifications required will be different, depending on whether you want your kitty to be your own personal support animal, or if you’d like to volunteer to take them to facilities where they help a larger number of people.
Here’s a rundown of some of the most commonly used organizations:
- Pet Partners — Is one of the largest organizations for animal therapy in the US. Pet Partners ‘teams’ visit a huge range of facilities to improve human health and well-being through the human-animal bond.
- You can visit their site to check your cat’s eligibility, and apply online to join their scheme.
- Love On A Leash — A nonprofit organization dedicated to providing an accessible certification process that creates qualified therapy teams. This allows them to provide effective pet-provided therapy services within their community.
- Some areas have local organizations, so don’t be afraid to ask your local vet, humane society or pet store to see if they know of any schemes close to home.
Usually, once the organization has established that you and your cat meet requirements, you’ll start your training course! These can be conducted in person or online. The certification will be awarded upon completion of a supervised visit.
Once you have been certified, it is possible to start changing lives one purr at the time!
Emotional Support Cats
- If you’d like your cat to work solely with you, you can look into registering them as an Emotional Support Animal (ESA).. ESAs are not considered service animals, but you might still want to look into a registered ESA trainer if you want to finetune your cat’s behavior and support.
- To register your cat as an ESA, you’ll need a letter of prescription from a licensed mental health professional (a psychiatrist, therapist, or doctor). This means they are part your treatment plan. This means that they cannot travel on flights with you due to new legislation. However, it does not mean that you or your support cat can be turned away from no pet housing situations or charged pet security deposits fees.
Therapy Cat Accessories
If your kitty is busy working, or with you for a special reason — you might want to be able to let the general public know that.
These accessories are a great way to subtly notify others that your cat has an all-areas pawpass and that you are there to support them.
- Emotional Support Harness — This might have ‘dog’ in the title, but countless reviews show it fits felines perfectly (just be sure to measure for the right size). This is a great way to make your cat visible in public.
- Emotional Support Tag — A great addition to your cat’s collar, ensuring that their status is easily seen.
- Emotional Support Bandana — More visible than a tag, you could use this with any existing harness you already have.
- The Supakit Harness — Our favorite harness to use with Yoda, it’s comfortable and secure for any travels. You can also choose from a range of cute leashes.
Can Your Cat be a Therapy Cat?
Although it may seem like a long path to certification, it is actually quite easy. Being the owner of a professionally trained therapy cat or ESA can bring you and your family amazing benefits. It can also give your cat a sense of purpose and deep connection.
Unfortunately, every cat is not a therapy cat. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t still the most special fur-friend in your own life. Plus, they’ll likely be providing some much-needed love to any visitors to come to your home too.
Take time to enjoy all the healing purrs and cuddles at night, knowing they are good for your health. You can spread joy and happiness to the world!
Have you ever thought of certifying your cat. Do you find that your cat is a great therapy tool? We’d love to know!