Newsday Tuesday – Therapy Cats and Kittens

I’ve met cats that would make terrific therapy cats—you know, those who will lay on the bed with a sick child or adult and allow petting while providing enormous comfort in just being and maybe purring. Some nursing homes have resident cats who slip in and out of patients’ rooms providing something the medical field can’t. I mean who doesn’t smile when they see a sweet face of a cat who wants nothing more than to be with you?

I used to take kittens from the human society to visit folks in nursing homes. So often the kittens would trigger wonderful memories. I recall one woman sitting up in her bed, petting one of the kittens, and sharing her memories of the cats she knew growing up on a farm. She had the best time reminiscing that day.

We hear a lot about therapy dogs and how much calm and comfort they can bring to children and the elderly, but there are cats who can do the job every bit as well. In one of my Klepto Cat Mysteries I include a segment about Rags and other cats participating in a children’s reading program—where the cats just sit with the child and listen to them read. Yes, this is a real thing and it works. Poor readers gain confidence in their reading skills when they sit with a cat who will listen to them read. And believe it or not there are associations for therapy and support cats. In fact, several of them.

Cats that meet certain criteria can be certified to visit children’s hospitals, assisted living homes, drug rehab facilities, juvenile detention centers, and other places in order to comfort, entertain, and delight people who need a little or a lot of cheering up or calming down. Here’s the link to one organization with stories of cat therapy successes.

Of course those of us with cats know the effect they can have on us. Who among you hasn’t felt the absolute comforting connection to your cat during a time of strife or sadness? Even the most active and skittish cat can be a comfort to her human. Cats are entertaining. I don’t know about you, but I’ve experienced the emptiness of my home without a cat. Those times have been rare and oh, so telling. What does it tell me? That I need my cats probably just as much as they need me.


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