Cat therapy: 6 benefits of cats in mental health

Gatotherapy is recommended for work on different objectives. Among them, the improvement of mood and the teaching of values ​​such as responsibility and care.

Last update: 06 July, 2022

Surely when you imagine the beginning of a therapy, what you visualize is the situation of a psychologist and a patient. Sure, that’s the most widespread image. Although not the only one. As new advances were discovered and new theories proposed, the therapy evolved and transformed. Thus, cat therapy was born.

Cat-assisted therapy involves the participation of a feline. Let’s see what it consists of and what its benefits are.

The benefits of cat therapy

Taking care of pets has numerous advantages for our health. Some of the benefits of incorporating cat care as part of therapy (cat therapy) are as follows.

1. Strengthens our immune system

By interacting with the felines, taking care of them, playing with them and distracting ourselves, we manage to get out (for a moment) of certain worries and distance ourselves from problems. This reduces stress and strengthens the body’s natural defenses.

Caring for animals reduces our stress and, with less cortisol, we have a better response from white blood cells.

2. Helps reduce anxiety and stress levels

The rhythm of felines is very different from that of other animals. Therefore, living with this type of pet can contribute to bringing a little more peace of mind to everyday life, reducing anxiety.

3. Allows you to better cope with loneliness

In some cases in which the person is going through a situation of mourning, separation or Empty nest, patients are recommended to start cat therapy. In this way, they feel company and can take care of the pet.

It is a way of connecting with emotions. By playing, talking, giving and receiving affection, loneliness dissipates.

4. Helps strengthen other skills

The exercise of responsibility, attention and distribution of tasks are soft and social skills. In families with developing children, making them part of the care of the pet is also a way to support the development of values.

5. Bring joy to our lives

From the caresses to the reactions when we return home after a long day, surely you found yourself smiling at the occurrences of your cat or talking to other people about it. In this way, it improves our mood, achieving a positive impact on the quality of life.

6. Reduces the chances of having a heart attack

A study conducted in 2009 revealed that people who live with cats are less likely to die of a heart attack. This would be due to the reduction in blood pressure.

Some considerations about cat therapy

This type of therapy with cats, and not with dogs or other animals, is suggested for certain cases. For example, in relation to older adults, dogs are more demanding and also more energetic (according to the canine family, of course). So sometimes a game can end in a blunder and a crash.

Cats are considered to be more independent and require less attention. Or, unlike a dog, the feline can live better in an apartment and does not need a daily walk, which is complex for an elderly person or person with reduced mobility.

In this way, they would contribute to a balance between the interest in caring for a pet, avoiding falling into absolute dependence. Cat therapy is also recommended for the approach in cases of children with autism.

It is important to make it clear that, in the latter case, it is not about affirming or deciding which pet is better or worse. What needs to be done is to adapt the therapy with animals to the circumstances, according to the therapeutic objective.

For people with reduced mobility, an animal that does not require so many walks or outings is better.

Not all therapies work for everyone

Like any approach, cat therapy requires a certain commitment to achieve the desired improvements. In this sense, before starting in it, it is necessary to be honest and analyze the real possibilities.

Not all therapies are for everyone or work the same way. Hence, it is important to analyze the diagnosis and the particular situation. For example, although it is obvious, we should know in advance if the person is allergic to cats or not.

For this reason, before recommending or starting a therapy of this type, one must think about the quality of treatment that a person can offer the animal. Let’s remember that pets are not toys or objects and that they also have basic needs that must be met, as well as rights that must be respected.

In this direction, it is necessary to ask ourselves if we have a comfortable place to have a cat, if we are interested and will take care of it, if we have the economic resources and time to provide care and well-being. Otherwise, it can lead to a stressful situation, both for the person and for the animal.

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