seniors

Photo courtesy of Purina® Cat Chow®
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Know someone who’s over 60 and feeling lonely? Help is just a phone call away. Purina Cat Chow has partnered with two non-profits in order to bring senior citizens some much-needed virtual therapy cat visits.

Wait…that’s a thing?

When we think of the term “therapy animal,” most of us are probably inclined to picture a dog. After all, canines dominate the therapy animal field at 94%. Felines, on the other hand, make up part of the other 6% (that’s combined with other animals). Anyone who has experienced that special, soul-soothing bliss that comes from stroking a purring kitty in their lap will tell you: those numbers might be off. Although therapy cats make up a smaller percentage of this segment, cats offer a wide array of positive benefits that make them wonderful therapy animals.

Just ask Roger and Sal – a couple of registered therapy cats – along with their handler Tracy Howell.

Since 2016, Tracy and Roger have been working with Pet Partners®, a non-profit that matches volunteer therapy animals of all kinds with people in need of a furry friend visit, including nursing facilities, assisted living, hospice centers, and children’s hospitals.

Tracy and Roger in 2016; Photo courtesy of Tracy Howell

Sal is a mew addition to the team. But he’s already working very, very hard…putting his head on people’s thighs and letting them massage his paws. What a gig.

According to Pet Partners, who have had more than 1,500 felines registered in their Therapy Animal Program, certain populations prefer cat companions to dogs. For one thing: they’re more compact, and generally more quiet, making lap cuddles a much more Zen experience.

Plus, cats tend to be more particular about who they interact with, which can signal a nice little ego boost. “Cats have a reputation for being selectively affectionate. If a cat likes you, you’re special,” says Moira Smith, Pet Partners staff member, team evaluator, and cat handler.

Basically, it feels really good to be invited into the Cat Club. Some of Roger and Sal’s most loyal fans are, in fact, seniors – in particular, those with dementia.

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