The therapeutic effect of cats: History, use and benefits of felinotherapy for human physical and mental wellbeing

Felinotherapy, also known as cat therapy or cat therapy, is a form of complementary medicine that uses cats as a therapeutic tool to improve people’s physical and mental health. The practice is becoming increasingly popular and recognised by the medical community.

The origins of cat therapy date back to ancient times. Ancient civilisations such as the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans regarded cats as sacred animals and used them for medicinal purposes. However, the formal recognition of cat therapy as a medical tool came later.

Felinotherapy is based on the idea that interaction with cats can have a positive effect on our health and well-being. Studies show that interacting with cats helps reduce stress and anxiety levels, improves mood, stimulates the production of endorphins and serotonin, the happiness hormones, and even lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In addition, watching cats play can stimulate physical activity and improve motor coordination in children and adults.

The therapeutic effect of cats: History, use and benefits of felinotherapy for human physical and mental wellbeing
"Candy is a therapy cat" / Photo by lovinkat / CC BY 2.0

Uses of cat therapy

The effects of cat therapy are particularly beneficial for people suffering from mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Interaction with cats helps to reduce symptoms and improve the emotional well-being of these patients. Cat therapy can also be effective for people with autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

One form of cat therapy is the presence of cats in palliative care, where they help to alleviate the physical pain and emotional suffering of seriously ill patients. In such cases, cats can be particularly effective as therapeutic companions.

Felinotherapy is used in a variety of medical settings, including hospitals, mental health clinics and nursing homes. Volunteers with cats visit patients and provide cat therapy sessions where people can play and socialise with the animals. The cats used for therapy are specially trained to be friendly and calm when interacting with people.

In summary, Companion Animal Therapy is an effective and natural way to improve people’s physical and mental health. Interacting with cats can reduce stress, improve mood, reduce anxiety and improve overall wellbeing. As cat therapy grows in popularity, it is expected that its use will expand to include more people in need of support and treatment.

Prepared by Mary Clair

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