Our beloved felines are more than just pets– they’re our confidants, a shoulder to cry on, and the most non-judgmental therapists ever. Anyone who’s been comforted by a loving pet will understand why people who suffer from depression and anxiety find solace in the company of a cat. More and more people are choosing cats as certified emotional support animals (ESAs) and therapy animals, and these recent news stories illustrate why.
Image above courtesy Uschi_Du/Pixabay
Courtesy The New York Post
A recent poll by Mars Petcare found that cat owners spend more than three and a half hours a week talking with their cat and just over nine hours cuddling. Six in 10 respondents said that their cat has helped them through periods of loneliness, and 54 percent say their pet has been a supportive presence when they were stressed about work. “Cats have also helped their owners though friend and family troubles, bereavement and relationship troubles,” writes Marie Haaland in The New York Post.
Kate Benjamin and Sterling Davis at CatCon 2018
Cats also make excellent nurses. CatCon alum Kate Benjamin spoke with the New York Times about how her cats have helped her through her treatments for cancer. “Just having them close by is the best therapy. If I’m sitting comfortably in a chair after surgery or I’m lying down just to feel their warmth and hear them purr, it’s comforting just to have them going around their regular business — whereas everyone else is texting and fussing over me.”
Modern Cat explains why cats make ideal emotional support animals (ESAs). “They are calm, intelligent and affectionate animals that can provide their owners with a soothing, comforting presence.” The article also has information on the process for getting a certification, which ensures that pet parents with ESAs are exempt from “No Pets” rental rules and allow their animal companions to fly free on U.S. airlines.
In recognition of the stress and anxiety that often takes a toll on college students, Yale University introduced an official policy in support of ESAs in dorms. At Yale, there are emotional support dogs, emotional support cats and even an emotional support hedgehog.
Courtesy We Love Cats and Kittens
Cats with the right temperament can be further trained and certified as therapy animals (not to be confused with service animals, who go through even more rigorous training to assist people with disabilities). Therapy animals visit nursing homes, hospitals, and even airports to provide comfort to those who need it.
If you have a story about a therapy cat who changed your life, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We may feature you in a future newsletter!
CatCon will return in 2019. More info coming soon!