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Therapy Cats

#4
Therapy cats
how does one get started doing this? what do you do to get certified? who to contact?
thanks,
suzanne
Hi Suzanne,

Getting ones cat certified as a therapy cat depends on what organization you are working with. Some have more relaxed standards, the cat just has to be basically friendly and leash trained and others put the cats through vigorous testing. The basic thing you are looking for in any cat that you want to do pet therapy with is a cat that has little or no reaction to strange situations. These situations include, wheel chairs, medical monitoring equipment, walkers, people with oxygen, feeding tubes, people who cannot speak normally and either make guttural sounds or maybe holler things out, etc. Plus being out handled by anyone. The latter is important as sometimes the patients you are visiting have limited motor skills due to stroke and/or accident and they are not the gentlest of handlers. I have now have two cat certified as therapy cats through the City of La Mesa, they have to be leash trained, they are subjected to various testing like a dog would be and the human volunteers have to be fingerprinted and also have a DOJ (FBI) background check performed. It is a lot for a cat to handle doing pet therapy. My current therapy cat, Firework, is very good and just will curl up with any resident/patient that I put her in the lap of, which is asking a lot of a cat or any animal. Her great, great grandmother (Clarice) was also a therapy cat, she was readily pet -able and very outgoing, but not to the extent that Firework is.

If you do do pet therapy it is very heartbreaking sometimes and also very rewarding. I meet the most wonderful people doing pet therapy. WW II veterans, people who were famous architects and authors, people who suffered terrible injuries and are pulling through them.

I hope this helps some (-: