Cats as Therapy Animals
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.”
What makes a visit from a therapy cat special?
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.