Purina® Cat Chow® is teaming up with Pet Partners to help increase awareness and advocacy for the therapeutic benefits of cats. To help support more therapy cat teams, Purina Cat Chow has donated $55,000 to Pet Partners. Purina Cat Chow recognizes the benefits of cats as therapy animals and like Pet Partners wants to improve health and well-being through the human-animal bond, a mutually beneficial relationship that improves the physical, social, and emotional lives of both animals and people who interact with them regularly.
“While most people tend to associate therapy animals with dogs, cats also provide a variety of mental and physiological benefits,” said Dr. Annie Valuska, Ph.D., senior pet behavior expert at Purina Cat Chow. “Cat owners often have lower stress levels than non-pet owners, which can improve blood pressure and cardiovascular health over time. Cats can also boost our mental health, decreasing feelings of loneliness and increasing a sense of purpose.”
Cats are appealing to people who might not like dogs, and their smaller size and affinity for sitting on laps and cuddling can make them a good option for quieter environments and people who have limited mobility. And there’s the impression of cats as being particular about who they interact with and how that influences the way people perceive them. “Cats have a reputation for being selectively affectionate. If a cat likes you, you’re special,” says Moira Smith, Pet Partners staff member, team evaluator, and cat handler. All of these things make visiting with a therapy cat a special experience.
There’s been a recent upswing in interest about cats as therapy animals, but they’re not new in this role—our Therapy Animal Program has had more than 1,500 cats registered over the years and currently has nearly 150 registered cat teams.
Some cats have just the right personalities to bring the healing power of the purr to their communities. Take Tommy the blind cat for example. Even after losing his sight, the eight-year-old tabby passed his therapy pet evaluation with excellence. Now, as a registered therapy cat with Pet Partners, he loves helping people of all ages with his handler, Christy Santoro. Read more about Tommy.
If you have a cat that is sociable, easygoing, comfortable on a leash, and enjoys new experiences, becoming a therapy animal team might be right for you. Learn more about the process of becoming a registered Pet Partners therapy animal team.
Together, Purina Cat Chow and Pet Partners are working to enhance the well-being of local communities with the help of cats. Learn more at catchow.com/therapy.