Although cats are frequently overshadowed by their canine counterparts, they are often just as effective, as therapy animals. With their fluffy, warm, soft fur, relaxed posture, and rhythmic purr the health benefits of using cats as therapy animals is impressive and effective. Here are some good reasons why more and more people, retirement and nursing home facilities, and hospitals are beginning to recruit cats as therapy animals.
REASON #1 – MORALE
Cats have quirky, generally pleasant personalities, which almost effortlessly seems to make your heart happy. Research has shown that a cats effect on easing blood pressure is real. They determined this by regularly conducting studies in which participants are connected to blood pressure and heart monitors while they pet cats. The results show that petting a cat can help reduce your blood pressure, slow your heart rate, and even create feelings of well-being and comfort. Individuals with high blood pressure are good candidates to benefit greatly from spending time with a loving cat. Some studies indicate that simply petting a cat for a sustained period of time can have an effect similar to that of conventional medications prescribed to patients who have high blood pressure.
REASON #2 – LONELINESS
The loving attention of a cat can help relieve and reduce the depressing effects of loneliness. Elderly women with their love of cats, is often ridiculed or joked upon, but these wise women know what they are talking about. Cats really can help relieve loneliness. If you've ever visited a retirement home or facility for the elderly, and had the opportunity to witness the expression on the patient's face when a cat is brought to visit, you will find it hard to deny the joyous, and happy reaction. Their eyes brighten up, and their mood lightens as they pet the cat in their lap. The feeling of petting a cat's soft fur is immensely soothing, and the antics of 'playful, light-hearted cats' can result in quite an entertaining visit. Cats can be an important part of anyone's life, but even more positive and uplifting to their elderly caretakers. For some, the relationship with their cat is the single most important thing in their life. The power of loving companionship to ease stress and loneliness is invaluable and immeasurable.
REASON #3 – PHYSICAL THERAPY
Stroking, petting and brushing a long-haired cat's fur can be a great vehicle for physical therapy for individuals with muscle disorders and patients suffering from painful muscle conditions. The process of brushing a cat's thick, soft fur can help to gradually increase flexibility in stiff hands and fingers, as well as ease muscle and joint stiffness in arms and wrists. Not only is brushing a cat's hair good for exercising muscles, it is also very relaxing. One of the best breeds of cat for this kind of therapy is the Persian.
REASON #4 – RELATIONSHIP SUPPORT
Cats can be helpful to troubled youth and mental health patients who live in facilities, by establishing healthy, simple relationships. Cats have been used in facilities helping troubled teens learn important life skills. Having a house pet, such as a cat helps young adults learn responsibility. A loving cat companion can also help troubled teens establish a stable, healthy relationship. For some young adults, this may be the most stable relationship they currently hold in their life. Cats are sometimes used in mental health facilities to provide residents with companionship and friendship, and as a means to help teach responsibility to patients. For many people, their relationship with a cat can actually transform their life.
REASON #5 – STRESS RELIEF
Dogs have made excellent pet therapy animals for many years; however, there is nothing quite as soothing and relaxing as the luxurious fur of a cat. As most cat lovers will tell you, a cat's fur is almost irresistible and seems to automatically coax you to stroke it. A feline's fur tends to be much softer and thicker than a canine's fur. The feeling and texture of a cat's fur against human skin, often evokes feelings of pleasure, relaxation, well-being and contentment.
The singular power of a cat's purr is extraordinary for its tranquil effect on the human emotion and another important aspect of why cats make good pet therapy animals. A cat's purr has long been associated with feelings of relaxation, warmth, and comfort. Regular studies have begun to help assess the positive effects of a cat's purring on their owners. Recent research is also beginning to credit cat purring with helping insomniacs fall asleep.