Are Cats Good Therapy?
A while ago I saw someone's social media name that said Kat Therapy. She was a psychotherapist like me and I was so intrigued that I messaged her and asked "Do you use cats in your therapy practice?" She responded back with a laugh "No, lol". Turns out her name was Kat and she does therapy, hence the name... but I was fascinated by the idea of cats for therapy, I thought it was brilliant. I grew up in a house where we always had pets from dogs, cats, hamsters, birds, and even an iguana named Zeppelin. We loved having animals (and reptiles) in our home but when I left for college and a life of travel, having a pet was not feasible. I got real comfortable with my life, easy to predict, busy, free, clean and successful. I had no desire to take time for a pet. I had forgotten what it felt like to have something love you unconditionally, bond with you, and share your space with you. In May of this year, 2017, I started feeling like I wanted a pet, and as I toyed around with all the different types of pets I would be interested in having to fit my lifestyle I contemplated a bunny, a chinchilla, and a cat. After researching bunnies and chinchillas, I realized I would just be taking care of something in a cage as they do not bond to humans as much as dogs and cats do. Are cats good therapy?
Yes cats make ideal pets as emotional support animals, a natural therapeutic treatment for mental health, and as just easy companions. Cats are very therapeutic for anxiety, autism, depression, ADHD or ADD, and even PTSD. The bond and laughter they bring into your life produces emotions and essential neurochemicals for happiness, purpose, calmness and pleasure.
Top 7 reasons why cats are good therapy:
Cats are generally calm and maintain a calm atmosphere
Cats are generally hilarious entertainment (laughter medicine)
Cats bond to their caretaker creating feelings of purpose
Cats cuddle producing feelings of unconditional love
Cat purrs help calm your heart & nerves
Cats are easy going creating a de-stressing environment
Cats bond to their human causing a release in oxytocin and dopamine, two happy neurochemicals
I welcomed my first little kitten into my home the week of the 4th of July this year and named her Liberty Belle. She immediately took to me and started snuggling by my side at nights to sleep. Every morning at 5:00am I get a head massage (with a little acupuncture) appointment as she sneaks up to my head and puts her head against mine with her paws into my hair and starts "kneading" my scalp and purring. This session lasts about 15- 20 minutes and is a bonding act that cats do from when they were nursing and kneading their paws on their mothers for milk.
I realized within 3 days of having Liberty that my life had been so void without her in it, so much so that when I would wake up with her snuggled into my side it would put me into tears. It was so refreshing to have this sweet little being in my house and unconditionally loving me. At nights I had so much entertainment with her, I hardly ever put a TV show on anymore. Cats are so hilarious to watch that I found myself laughing way more in my home than I ever had. Laughter is another really therapeutic medicine for our mental health. Liberty was so curious and confident, she'd jump into things before thinking, like the shower, the toilet, the fridge, and even the garbage can (luckily it was empty), causing me to laugh so hard because of her innocent and curious nature. Kittens are pure joy and realizing how friendly and social she was, I wanted to get her a playmate (plus of course I wanted another kitten in my home, double the pleasure)! So I welcomed Lincoln, a little sweet handsome gentle man 2 months later. Liberty and I were well bonded so I wanted to introduce another kitten while she was still a kitten. Lincoln is so opposite of her personality. He is gentle, but cautious. I open the fridge, he goes running where she jumps in it. I open the dishwasher, he goes running and she jumps in it. But he is so full of love and always happy. He purrs at my side as he snuggles up next to me every night and has just a happy go lucky personality where Liberty needs adventure and intrigue.
Both their personalities are so delightful to have in the home that I went from being alone, task focused and business oriented, to having so much more joy and levity in my life. They truly rescued me from wearing myself out and have been the gasoline my heart needed to give more to the world. So if you are looking for a natural solution to heal your heart, kitty cat therapy is one of the best therapies you could implement in my opinion.
What are other cat owners saying?
I asked several cat owners to describe in one word how their how is therapy to them and here is what they said: warmth, de-stresser, non-needy, friend, trouble solver, supportive, unconditional, comfort, entertaining, adorable, blood-pressure lowering, playful, gentle, tuned into emotions, bestie, accepting, trusting, lively, silly, companion, soothing, affectionate
, and most of all people said LOVE