Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
One day I came home from school and I was really sad, so I went to my room, sat on my bed, and did a reflection on what had happened that day. A tear rolled down my face, and as I wiped away the tear I looked up to see my cat, Izzy, on my bed. As soon as I she saw me crying, she rushed over and started rubbing her head all over me, hitting me with her nose and purring like crazy, and she usually just leaves me alone. Could she have actually known I was sad?
Siouxsie: Yes, April, we cats absolutely can tell when our people are sad!
Thomas: We’ve all spent lots of time comforting Mama when she was sad or angry, and helping her celebrate her joys and triumphs.
Bella: A cat’s purr has a sound frequency between 25 and 150 Hz. According to a Scientific American article, sound frequencies in this range have been shown by some investigators to improve bone density and speed healing.
Siouxsie: But beyond the physical healing, cats have provided emotional comfort to people all over the world.
Thomas: Cats are known to help children with autism or other developmental issues feel more comfortable with the world around them.
Bella: And of course, we’re always happy to help anyone who just doesn’t feel like they fit in anywhere. We love our people unconditionally, and we don’t care whether the other kids (or adults) think you’re cool or not!
Siouxsie: The fact that Izzy approached you and did everything to comfort you tells us that she really loves you a lot! Even if she mostly leaves you alone, this one episode should be a big clue that she cares a lot about you and your happiness.
Thomas: The next time you’re having a bad day and you feel like nobody cares about you, remember that special moment with Izzy.
Bella: Mama said that when she was a teenager, her cats helped her get through some really awful times, too.
Siouxsie: And we’re seeing more and more cats certified as therapy animals. Their company has been known to lower blood pressure, relieve anxiety, and help people who are suffering from mental illnesses. In fact, in the U.S., under the Fair Housing Act, people requiring emotional support animals (including cats) must be allowed accommodations in housing, including “no pets” housing.
Thomas: The catch here is that in order to have your cat qualify as an emotional support animal, you would need to have a special letter from a licensed mental health professional documenting your need for an emotional support animal. You can’t just go to any landlord and say “My cats are emotional support animals, so you have to let me keep them here.” This article from nolo.com discusses emotional service animals and how they differ from psychiatric service dogs and other service animals.
Bella: Anyway, April, the point is that yes, we cats can tell how you’re feeling, and we love you enough to want to help you feel better when you’re sad.
Siouxsie: Mama wrote an article for Catster about how we kitties have helped her through some really hard times and even kept her from Putting Herself To Sleep — and so she thinks cats are the perfect therapy animals.
“Even when I couldn’t see anything to love about myself, I could see in their eyes that they saw a lot to love about me. I couldn’t abandon any creature that loved me even when I hated myself.” ~ Mama
Thomas: What about you other readers? Have your cats comforted you when you were sad? Do you have a therapy cat who works with people in nursing homes, kids with disabilities, or other people who need special emotional support? Please share your stories in the comments.
Bella: Tell us all about it, and share pictures of your therapy kitties too, if you’d like!