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Cute cat nudging a cute kid with its face

Photo Courtesy of Exploring Your Mind

Many people in the United States suffer from emotional or mental health issues during any given day. In fact nearly 50% of people in the country will meet the criteria for mental health condition diagnosis at some point in their life. If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, and you find the typical treatment of psychotherapy and prescription pills to not be to your liking, there are alternative methods for caring for your mental health. 

One popular, and frankly, fun way to help improve your mental health is with a therapy pet. Pets provide emotional support and companionship that can have positive outcomes for your emotional health. And while many people know about support dogs, there are also emotional support cats. If you want to find out more about these feline therapists take a look at the article below.

cat with inquisitive look on its face
Many studies show that therapy cats calm nerves and lower blood pressure.

What Is A Therapy Cat?

How And Why They Differ From Regular Cats.

A therapy cat is a cat that has been trained to provide medical benefits to a human whose health is ailing. These cats are trained to take advantage of human/animal interactions to promote relaxation and healing. Therapy cats provide their owner with affection and comfort. It is not uncommon to find therapy cats in nursing homes, retirement homes, schools, and hospices. By providing companionship therapy cats relieve feelings of loneliness and isolation that many who suffer from mental health issues experience.

Many people are familiar with the concept of dogs as emotional support animals as well as service dogs for those who suffer from disabilities. However, therapy cats are not used as service animals for those with disabilities. Therapy cats are specifically aimed at relieving emotional and mood disorders. 

Since therapies cats are specifically trained to maximize their medical benefit, not any old cat can serve as a therapy cat. Although any cat is capable of providing companionship and comfort, you’ll have to go out of your way to track down a trained therapy cat.

trained therapy cat in a vest
Therapy cats are defined as being a cat that is trained to help humans in a medically beneficial manner. Photo Courtesy of Colorado An.

Think That A Therapy Cat Sounds Right For You?

Where and How to Find A Therapy Cat.

There are really two ways that you can go about tracking down a therapy cat. The first way is to check and see if a therapy cat is offered as part of a group session at any university building, nursing home, hospital, or school that you may attend. If you can’t find a group session with a therapy at any of these places, there are specific facilities that host group therapy sessions with their trained cats. You can search and see if any facility like that exists near you.

If you prefer to avoid group therapy sessions and want one on one time with your own personal therapy cat don’t worry. You can get a prescription that allows you to own a therapy cat. There are a few benefits to such a prescription. For one, you get to own the cat. So you get a new member to add to your household or family. On top of that, a therapy pet prescription allows you to own a pet in a building that otherwise bans pet ownership. And of course with your prescription and therapy cat at home, any time you feel like you need to spend some time with your therapy animal they’re right there for you.

comfy cat on a cat sized sofa
Therapy cats provide a calm and docile companion for those suffering from mental health issues. 

From House Cat to Therapy Cat

How to Train Your Own Cat to Become A Therapy Cat

If you are feeling particularly attached to the idea of getting a therapy cat and want an even closer bond with your pet you can train your own cat to become a therapy cat. There are therapy cat organizations that offer instructions, advice, and help on how to train your own cat to behave like a therapy cat.

Training your own therapy cat is going to require quite a bit more dedication than simply getting a cat that is already trained. However, owners who train their own therapy cat report a closer bond with the animal and an increased benefit to the human/animal relationship. So this option has its downsides as well as benefits so make sure you weigh your options, and your experience, before you dedicate to training your therapy cat

kitten reaching out to touch owners face
Even an untrained cat can provide emotional benefits to those facing emotional or mental health problems. Photo Courtesy of Exploring Your Mind

A therapy cat can do everything from lower the likelihood an individual suffers from depression to outright alter our blood pressure and heart beat in a calming way. The benefits that pets offer are almost specifically targeted to help those who suffer from mental health issues. If you or a loved one have been suffering from a mental health condition and you haven’t found the option that suits you, a therapy cat can be a great method to improve your mental health. Not only does pet ownership show concrete benefits, it is cheaper to buy cat food than it is to pay for therapy sessions and prescriptions.

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