Cat companionship can be therapeutic, too

Purina has donated US$30,000 to Pet Partners to fund the training and registration of feline therapy teams

Move over, dogs—there’s a new ‘man’s best friend’ in town.

Pet Partners, a national non-profit group known for its therapy animal program, has teamed up with Purina to help increase awareness and advocacy for the therapeutic benefits of cats. Further, to help fund the training and registration of therapy cat teams, the pet food company is donating US$30,000 to the organization.

“While most people tend to associate therapy animals with dogs, cats also provide a variety of mental and physiological benefits,” says Annie Valuska, PhD, a senior pet behaviour expert with Purina. “Cat owners often have lower stress levels than non-pet owners, which can improve blood pressure and cardiovascular health over time. Cats can also boost our mental health, decreasing feelings of loneliness and increasing a sense of purpose.”

In a recent survey conducted by Purina, 85 per cent of cat owners said they have experienced therapeutic benefits from their pets, with 86 per cent adding that owning a cat has improved their quality of life.

Additionally, while 94 per cent of pet owners said they associate dogs with animal-assisted therapy, 72 per cent of cat owners believe felines could be effective therapy partners. Further, 60 per cent said they were interested in learning more about how cats could potentially improve the physical, social, and emotional lives of humans.

“For pet owners seeking to keep their therapy cats healthy and prepared to serve their communities, it is important to ensure their cats receive balanced nutrition in addition to plenty of rest between visits,” Dr. Valuska says. “It’s also key for owners to keep the bond strong with their cats, prioritizing time for play and affection.”

For more on how to register cats as therapy animals, click here.

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