How Are Animals Helpful In Therapy

I don’t know when my love for cats started.  But I grew up in a home where animals are loved and treated like humans.  

cat therapy for depression
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My grandfather owns dogs, cats, birds, snakes, even bats.  He loves each animal like family. We talk to them in human language, and very interestingly they understand.  Dogs and cats are trained to use the bathroom, and they even bathe twice a week.   Birds, snakes, and bats are sheltered in their cages, and my grandfather would visit them every day and spend time talking to them.  

From One Cat To I Couldn’t Imagine

I am asthmatic, so as a child I was not allowed to go near the animals, especially cats because they would trigger an attack.  I grew up believing that I couldn’t have a cat.

But when I was older, walking home one day, I saw a stray cat.  She followed me until I got to the house. The cat was so cute that I wasn’t able to resist allowing her inside the house to feed her.  The cat settled with us, and months after, she gave birth to kittens which were just as lovely.

I didn’t have the heart to throw the kittens away, so I decided to adopt them.  The cats have become like my children along with their mother cat. Enjoying their company, I never noticed that they have grown in number until I had almost 26 cats in our house.  

Cat Therapy Helps Boost Immune System

Therapy With Cats Benefits

cat therapy and oxytocins
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The thing is, I never had an attack, not even one – from the day I adopted a cat.  I wondered “Is this what they consider cat therapy?” Because aside from that, I found out that there are many health benefits to cat therapy that not everyone knows about. Some of these are:

  • Lower risk of heart disease
  • Decrease chance of developing allergens – “This one may sound counterintuitive, but children who grow up in homes with furry friends are actually less likely to develop common allergies,” says Sanam Hafeez, PsyD.
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Lower the risk of stroke
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Improve mood and help fight depression
  • Help reduce symptoms of autism

 

Cats And Oxytocin In Therapy

According to Suzanne Northey, LMFT, “Pets are also great for mental health. That’s why so many professionals in the social service industry advocate the use of therapy dogs that go to visit residents in assisted living settings, and patients in skilled nursing facilities and hospitals.”

Doctors have an explanation of why people with cats and other pets at home become healthier than they used to. The effectiveness of cat therapy is due to the buildup of healthy chemicals in the brain.

Oxytocin, or the love hormone, is produced in the hypothalamus and is released into the bloodstream. According to Sally Nazari, PsyD, “Oxytocin is beneficial because it slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and helps prevent stress hormone production. Thus, increased levels of this hormone in the body can help people feel calmer and more at peace.” The same chemical is responsible for the mother-baby bonding, which is also a factor why a mother lactates when she gives birth.   Cats release the same chemicals when we caress and bond with them. That’s how it contributes to therapy.

 

As a matter of fact, a Japanese study even revealed that merely having eye contact with your cat enables it to raise its oxytocin level.  That’s why oxytocin is now also known as the “taming molecule” as it allow us to bond with the members of other species.

 

Cat therapy may have explained my grandparents’ long life, living happily to almost a hundred without being confined in a hospital.  

 

Bonding With Cats For Improved Health

Cat therapy for me is so effective. When I’m home, I spend most of my time with my cat.   I would lay on the floor and they would immediately come to me and play with me.   We eat meals together and even watch movies together. I sometimes read them a book and take them to the park.  My life has changed a lot from the time I had my first cat up until now. My outlook on life, my perseverance, my focus, and the way I live it is has completely changed.  I used to be a worrier and a lonely soul, but now, my life is happier, and I am more relaxed and contented with the way it is. I guess that’s how much cat therapy creates an impact.

cat therapy for mental health
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Best Therapy With Cats 

Having pets around has helped boost my health and bonding with them has been a form of relaxation for me. The love and care I give them are incomparable to the happiness they have brought to my life.  If this is not helpful, then I don’t know what is. Cat therapy is far more than what I never imagined it could be. Cat therapy just changed my life for the better.