Therapy Cats & Rabbits

The Therapy Cat

"When I began doing therapy dog work, one resident kept asking me to bring in a cat. She said, "These dogs are okay but I've always had cats and I miss my cat. Can't you bring in a cat?"
 
So, I taught Flea, who was ten years old at the time, to accept a harness and to walk on a leash. He would do it if walking next to one of our dogs but would collapse (as if his legs were broken) if a dog wasn't with him. So I'd bring the dog, too, no problem.

Flea was a huge hit! First of all, everyone thought it was hilarious to see a cat walk in with all the dogs! But then he could be placed on someone's lap and would just rest there, purring, until I picked him up. He was wonderful. And the resident who asked for a cat was so happy she cried.

Flea was the first; he paved the way, but many cats have followed him."

To be a therapy cat, the cat must first have the personality for it. He needs to be solid and unflappable; we can’t have a cat panic during a visit.

In addition:
  • He must be able to ride in a car well so he isn’t stressed when arriving at a visit.
  • He must be well housetrained; no accidents.
  • He must be able to wear a harness and leash. Although there is no requirement that the cat walk on a leash, you do need some means of restraining the cat.
  • He must be comfortable with dogs as most of the visits will probably be made with dogs.
  • Last but most important, your cat must love people. A stand-offish cat, or one who looks as if she’s tolerating this but hates it, won’t work out.

The Therapy Rabbit

Rabbits can make wonderful therapy pets. They are soft, wonderful to touch, and many are very calm.

To be a therapy rabbit:
  • He must be able to ride in a car well so he isn't stressed when arriving at a visit.
  • He must be well housetrained; no accidents. Or, he needs a towel under him at all times. Many of the dwarf rabbits can ride in a basket lined with a towel.
  • You need to be able to control the rabbit, either in a basket, wrapped in a towel, or be able to wear a harness and leash.
  • He must be comfortable with dogs as most of the visits will probably be made with dogs.
  • Last but most important, your rabbit must love people. A stand-offish rabbit, or one who looks as if she's tolerating this but hates it, won't work out.
  • Rabbits will need to be evaluated by their veterinarian.
From "Love on a Leash", by Liz Palika (2013)
P.O. Box 4548
Oceanside, CA 92052-4548
(760) 740-2326
info@loveonaleash.org
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