In addition to dogs, LOAL also accepts cats and rabbits as therapy pets. Most owners of therapy cats and rabbits say the most important traits include a laid-back, steady, calm personality and a tolerance for the unusual. A reactive pet (who reacts before thinking) is not a good therapy pet. Therapy pets must be able to tolerate sights and sounds that are unusual; petting that could be different or hard; or any number of other things that are out of the ordinary.
The cats and rabbits are also described as affectionate. Although the cat or rabbit doesn't have to be as outwardly affectionate as a dog might be--purring, snuggling on a lap or on a bed, or other gestures of affection are important. As with our dog therapy members, cats and rabbits must be on a leash at all times when making a visit
How Did Liz Get Started With Flea?
1. Introduce your cat to a harness and leash. Start with the harness. When your cat accepts the harness, attach a light-weight leash to the harness and let him drag it. You may need to bribe your kitty, perhaps with a piece of cheese or turkey. With lots of love, lots of treats, and lots of petting, this shouldn't take too much time.
2. Begin a regular routine of brushing and manicuring your cat.
3. Take a lot of car rides. Introduce your cat to the carrier and take him for a ride to places--other than the vet's!
4. Visit our friends or relatives at their homes (outside of the cat's normal territory). Liz writes: "I drove over to my parents' house a couple miles away. (They had been warned!) We went in and I placed Flea on my Dad's lap. Flea jumped down right away so I gave my Dad some of Flea's treats and told him to offer Flea a treat only when Flea held still for petting. That lesson took about fifteen seconds for Flea to learn and he settled down on my Dad's lap and stayed there even after the treats were gone." Liz repeated this exercise over several weeks, then moved on to her friends' homes. Eventually, Flea became casual and relaxed enough to make a test visit at a local Alzheimer's facility.
5. Make sure your cat is up-to-date on his vaccinations.
Certified Therapy Cat on a visit
Some of Our Feline Therapy Teams
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