Therapy Cats

September 23, 2020

Purina Cat Chow is on a mission to support the care and training of therapy cat teams, officials said in a statement. In this effort, the company has donated $30,000 to Pet Partners, a national nonprofit known for its therapy animal program.

According to a recent survey conducted by Purina Cat Chow, 85 percent of cat owners agree that they have had therapeutic benefits from their cats and that becoming a cat owner has improved their quality of life (86 percent). While three-fourths of cat owners agree that society does not understand the benefits of having a cat, nearly all (94 percent) agree that many people can benefit from spending time with cats.

Purina Cat Chow officials said that they recognize the benefits of cats as therapy animals and, like Pet Partners, wants to improve health and well-being through the human-animal bond, a mutually beneficial relationship that improves the physical, social and emotional lives of both animals and people who interact with them regularly.

“While most people tend to associate therapy animals with dogs, cats also provide a variety of mental and physiological benefits,” said Dr. Annie Valuska, Ph.D., senior pet behavior expert at Purina Cat Chow, a brand of Nestlé Purina PetCare in St. Louis. “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.”

Purina Cat Chow’s recent survey confirmed that while most (94 percent) pet owners associate dogs with animal-assisted therapy, only 41 percent of pet owners associate cats with therapy animals. However, more people, especially cat owners, understand the special benefits cats provide, with 72 percent of cat owners believing cats could be effective therapy partners and 60 percent interested in learning more about how their cat could potentially improve others’ lives, according to the survey.

“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, like that found in Purina Cat Chow, in addition to plenty of rest between visits,” Dr. Valuska said. “It’s also key for owners to keep the bond strong with their cats, prioritizing time for play and affection.”

As people spend more time at home with their cats, Purina Cat Chow and Pet Partners officials encourage cat owners to learn how to become a therapy animal team with your cat. Thanks in part to Purina Cat Chow’s donation, Pet Partners is offering online training courses and discounted registration of therapy cat teams, officials said.

“Cats and cat owners can give back without even having to leave their homes,” officials added. “Together, Cat Chow and Pet Partners are working to enhance the well-being of local communities with the help of cats.”

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