Move over canines, therapeutic moggies are making a splash in American hospitals and cancer centres.
According to the New York Times, hospitals and cancer centres in the United States are embracing diversity in their quest for the right therapy animals with miniature horses, cats, rabbits and even llamas now being hired to sooth and entertain patients.
The therapeutic animal business is apparently doing a booming trade, according to the paper which says the US’s biggest registry has 13,000 animals on its books who make three million visits to patients each year.
While 94 percent of the animals are dogs, the roster includes 200 cats and 20 llamas, said CEO of Pet Partners, C. Annie Peters.
“I will say it takes a very special cat to become a therapy animal, she told the NY Times. “There are regular grooming and hygiene requirements, and they have to enjoy getting in a car.”
It’s still early days in terms of research demonstrating the efficacy of therapy animals.
But one woman who swears by the health benefits of felines is Kate Benjamin, a breast cancer survivor who relied on her 10 cats for support during treatment including a double mastectomy, who now has a blog and newsletter devoted to road-testing products for cats.
“Just having them close by is the best therapy,” Ms Benjamin told the NY Times. “If I’m sitting comfortably in a chair after surgery or I’m lying down just to feel their warmth and hear them purr, it’s comforting just to have them going around their regular business — whereas everyone else is texting and fussing over me.”