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How therapy cats can help people

How therapy cats can help people

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Animals are good for human mental and physical health - this has now been scientifically proven. Therapy cats help their human partners to treat mentally ill people or to protect seniors in the old people's home from loneliness. Read below how this works. Therapy cats help people to cope better with mental problems through their presence - Shutterstock / Stock-Asso

There is a specialization in psychotherapy for people called "animal assisted therapy". Various animal species help their owners and mistresses to treat their patients with anxiety disorders, depression, autism or dementia.

Therapy dogs are often used, but dolphin or riding therapy with horses also ensures that these people feel better faster. Therapy cats are in no way inferior to their animal colleagues.

What are the tasks of therapy cats?

Therapy cats either live in the practice of a psychotherapist or accompany them on patient visits. You don't have to do any special tasks to help the patient. It is enough if they are there and behave normally, like any other cat. You decide yourself what you want to do. Therapy cats, for example, approach curiously new patients and carefully sniff them.

They are impartial and do not judge people. This has a calming effect and can help to reduce fears or concerns about the therapy situation or the psychotherapist. The treatment is made considerably easier in this way.

Therapy dogs: which four-legged friends are suitable?

Unlike assistance dogs, therapy dogs are not specially trained for a single patient ...

Can every velvet paw become a therapy cat?

In principle, any fur nose can become a therapy cat. However, it is not advisable to bring behavior-sensitive house tigers together with strangers, because these cats themselves first need help from the cat psychologist. A therapy cat should also not be afraid of visitors and should be somewhat human-related. If the velvet-pawed therapist not only helps out in the practice, but also goes on home visits, it is also important that she likes to drive a car and quickly feels comfortable in foreign places.

The cats must be healthy and vaccinated so that the patients cannot be infected with diseases. This is particularly important for old and immunocompromised people. In this case, for safety's sake, it is advisable not to barge the cat, i.e. to feed it with raw meat. Because even the smallest germ can be life-threatening for immunocompromised people.

Therapy cats often come from animal welfare. These can also be handicapped velvet paws, for example blindness. The cats not only have a loving home and an important role, they also serve as role models for human patients. Using the example of animals, people can see that fears, handicaps and traumatic experiences can be overcome.

When cats like to cuddle with people

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Therapy cats help old people

Older people in retirement homes are often lonely and suffer from various physical complaints or dementia. Therapy cats can help alleviate these health problems. Their presence alone brings variety and life to the everyday life of the elderly. The animal visit makes you forget loneliness, makes you happy and relaxed.

Other positive effects of animal-assisted therapy with cats:

● Hypertension is reduced
● Heartbeat calms down
● Stress hormones in the blood decrease
● Cholesterol level drops

Animal-assisted therapy for people with mental illnesses

Therapy cats react directly to a person's behavior and communicate in this way with them - honestly, unadulterated and without ulterior motives. Over time, a relationship of trust develops between the animal and the patient. The cat can be petted, purrs, maybe even cuddles on his lap.

This promotes empathy, calms and helps to concentrate on the moment. Furthermore, the fur noses provide a topic of conversation, so that the reluctance towards the human therapist on the part of the patient decreases. The acceptance and prejudice-free affection of the cat is also balm for a cracked self-esteem.

Therapy cats, for example, help patients suffering from the following mental illnesses:

● depression
● Anxiety disorders
● Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

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Cat therapy for children with autism

Animal-assisted therapy not only helps adults, but also children. Children with autism in particular benefit from therapy with animal accompaniment. Autism occurs in many different facets and degrees of severity, but there are still a few similarities:

● Difficulties in interpersonal communication
● Difficulty with abstract thinking (statements are often taken literally)
● Difficulty interpreting other people's feelings
● Problems with friendships and interpersonal relationships

Therapy cats take their little human patients as they are. They use no irony, no ambiguity in communication and always give direct feedback on the behavior of their counterpart. The difficulties that arise for autistic children in interpersonal communication do not arise in contact with the animals. This helps the children to open up and understand their fellow human beings better.