Pet Therapy with cat: what it is and what it is for

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Starting a path of care (or growth) with an animal involves many benefits, both from an emotional point of view and from a psychomotor point of view. In fact, caring for and loving a four-legged friend not only helps children to develop a greater emotional balance and to "train" their empathy, but also improves their communication skills and those psychomotor.

In certain circumstances, the proximity to a companion animal even becomes a "therapeutic" approach to overcome certain psychological complications. So that's why it can be useful to set one Pet Therapy with a cat and which subjects could benefit most from it.

In this article

  • Pet Therapy with cat: what is it?
  • The difference between having a cat and Pet Therapy with a cat
  • In which cases is Pet Therapy with cats useful?
  • Pet Therapy with cat: what are the benefits?
  • Which cat breeds are best suited for pet therapy?

Pet Therapy with cat: what is it?

Pet Therapy we mean a set of support approaches for the sick, children and the elderly who are actually called officially Animal Assisted Interventions (IAA), an approach of which the country was a pioneer, given that we were the first European country to introduce structured legislation as early as 2022.

This modality consists in support some therapeutic (or educational) pathways through the constant attendance of pets - that is, animals considered by law to be "pets" - by individuals who are particularly sensitive to this type of approach. Pet therapy, for example, is widely used with children, seniors with Alzheimer's syndrome or people with disability.

Being pets, dogs e cats they are obviously the two most popular species for this type of approach. In this article, therefore, we will analyze with greater care the Pet Therapy practiced together with our feline friends.

Why the cat?

Il cat, despite the false myth of its presumed anaffectivity, it is a perfect animal for Pet Therapy, as these creatures stimulate the establishment of a great empathic relationship with the human being. Not only that, cats - although considered more independent than dogs - still require a lot of attention from their owners, who are therefore empowered and develop a deep bond with their four-legged friend.

Read also: Pet therapy: what it is, how it works and what are its benefits

The difference between having a cat and Pet Therapy with a cat

If it is true that having a cat at home always involves an emotional investment (and energy) that is beneficial for the humans who care for it, it is still good to specify a substantial difference between hosting a pet in the family and Pet Therapy. The latter, in fact, although it is not a real therapy (it can never replace medical treatment), represents an important support within a path reserved for children or adults suffering from certain diseases.

The big difference, therefore, lies in the joint presence of some specialized operators (psychologists, educators or veterinary doctors), capable of monitoring and conducting the sessions of Pet Therapy, and of conductors experts, i.e. those who train cats and must always be present. Only the skilful work of these figures can guarantee a professional - and therefore functional - approach to therapy with animals.

Pet Therapy: in search of professionalism

"As for access to the profession - explained Francesca Abellonio of ConTatto pet therapy, a team of professionals operating between Cuneo and Turin - for now there is nothing regulated and anyone can decide to offer themselves with their pet to a facility, putting both users and the animal at risk. Unfortunately, in Del Paese there are many associations that improvise courses but many others with many years of experience that offer serious and complete training. There are also First and second level Masters in Activity and Assisted Therapy with animals in different universities such as Pisa, Genoa, Turin or our city that offer a nationally recognized degree. Those who want to do this job should choose the most serious training course, lasting a minimum of two years and not a few weekends "

Read also: Cats and children: advice, coexistence, myths

In which cases is Pet Therapy with cats useful?

Pet Therapy is an opportunity for growth for all types of patients. However this type of approach is particularly suitable for seniors with Alzheimer's, victims of trauma, patients oncological (psychological support) e children with disabilities, especially those suffering from austimo.

Pet therapy with cats and autism

Cats are animals that they act instinctively, in freedom, with immediate behaviors devoid of the many nuances that accompany every human communicative action. Just this simplicity helps autistic children to enter into a relationship with these creatures much easier than they could with a doctor or any other adult: this is a great "training" to learn how to interpret feelings and therefore improve in interpersonal relationships.

Read also: Pet therapy and autism, what benefits

Pet Therapy with cat: what are the benefits?

Establishing a relationship with a cat involves in the patient, child or adult, a strong gain in terms of self-esteem and psychophysical benefits. Here are a few

  • Calming effect: cats, with their soft fur and their "winking" attitude (when they want!) help patients to channel fears and reduce their anxieties, transmitting a sense of security and trust that can be decisive in dealing with medical therapies particularly impacting from a physical and psychological point of view (eg: chemotherapy).
  • Good mood: the purr of a cat can give a feeling of fulfillment that can drive away all bad thoughts. Petting a cat is an operation that causes the human body to release serotonin, "the hormone of happiness".
  • Development of learning and empathy: this is mostly found in children. Having to do with a cat, in fact, implies having to learn to take care of it and understand what are the behaviors that make it feel good or that, on the contrary, annoy it. This helps children improve their concentration and their ability to interact with another living being.
  • Increase of communication skills: the interaction with the cat - as well as the need to learn to understand their feelings - helps the patient to improve communication approaches and to open up more with the outside world.

Are there any risks?

In reality, the only possible contraindications are possible cat fur allergies or the use of specimens unsuitable for therapeutic use (specimens too lively o too aggressive)

Read also: The benefits of having a cat for the family

Which cat breeds are best suited for pet therapy?

The necessary premise when talking about the most suitable breeds for Pet Therapy concerns the fact that in reality the most important thing is the correct relationship between the pet and his conduttore, i.e. the person who trained the animal and must be present at all therapy sessions. If the relationship is happy, the therapeutic path will also go in the right direction.

Therefore, although there are no breeds expressly indicated for use in Pet Therapy, it can be said that normally those breeds that are considered more meek and affectionate as the common one are favored. Siamese, Carthusian, Maine, Ragdoll or the Sphynx (which is quite expensive though).

Sources:; Infant Jesus Hospital

  • cats and children
  • animals and children
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