Cat Therapy

Cats are good for our emotional and physical health.  I call it Cat Therapy.

cat therapy

Look at the face of that kitty!  This is Angel – she owns a lovely couple that live in the Bay Area in California.  Can you seriously stay upset while looking at that face?

There is little in this world that settles my angst and opens my heart more than coming home and seeing the angelic face of my sleeping cat.  It triggers a reminder deep down inside that all is well. I’ve never lived without a cat.  I doubt I ever could. Cats calm me. Sooth me.  I call it cat therapy.

More than emotional

Pets in general do this for us. But it is much more than an emotional response. Studies have found that the hormone oxytocin is released when we’re around pets, triggering feelings of happiness.  There have been numerous studies conducted on the benefits of petting a cat. Here are a few;

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Decrease anxiety
  • Increase sensory stimulation
  • Ward off depression
  •  Inspire sense of purpose
  • Lower stress level

If you own a cat, this probably isn’t news to you. But if you have any doubt, I invite you to visit a very special page about cats on  About.com.  People were invited to share their stories of ‘cat therapy.’  Eighty five people responded. The stories are simply amazing.  All walks of life. All sorts of disorders (especially children with autism) positively impacted by a cat.  I’m sharing excerpts from three of them here:

I suffered with panic and anxiety attacks as well as depression near the end of 2006. I was in therapy for months and took medication. I decided to adopt a kitten one day to have another little life around so I wouldn’t feel so alone. Vlad came into my life about a week before my 40th birthday in 2007. I immediately felt I had a purpose, taking care of my kitten. About a month later I adopted a companion for him and added another wonderful little life. Having them proved a wonderful distraction to my problems. So much so I feel I can handle my life a little better and no longer have anxiety attacks. Coming home to my family of 5 cats now is the highlight of my day. I come home and I can talk to them and tell them my troubles and they patiently listen. Cats are wonderful therapists and most of all, great friends.

…a diagnosis of depression turned into a diagnosis of schizophrenia. My cats have come to recognize when I am having auditory hallucinations (which can be unnerving) and try to comfort me. Ducky will sit in my lap and purr (and drool of course), while Annabelle will groom my eyebrows and forehead. It always makes me feel better, and allows me to feel like I am not alone. I believe that love shines brightest in the face of hardship, and they have been like little suns to me.

My husband and I both suffer from severe depression. I also have severe pain. Sometimes no medication will touch my pain, but if I spend time petting our kitties and listening to their purrs, my mood lifts and my pain becomes more bearable.

It is no wonder that there are registered Therapy Cats that go into retirement communities, nursing homes, correctional facilities, hospices – places where love, comfort and healing is in order.

I invite you to read the extraordinarily amazing and moving stories at the About.com site on cats. More importantly, I invite you to get a cat!

Cats are good therapy.

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