Jobs For Pets: Therapy Cat

Jobs For Pets: Therapy Cat

Do cats care? The answer is yes, purr-fectly well indeed.

When you think of the term “therapy pet”, you axiomatically think only of dogs, trained to provide comfort to people in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, hospices, or disaster areas. But who’s to say that cats, with their austere and fervent nature, cannot be therapy pets as well?

Animal-assisted therapy has been an ongoing procedure in Singapore for 12 years now, yet feline-assisted therapy, sadly, seems relatively unheard of.

 

In this week’s “Jobs for Pets”, Ah Beng Pet Store interviews therapy cat Teapot and her human Jess Ong, to find out more about their continuous and generous contribution, as a feline therapist to clients in need of animal therapy.

 

“Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty”: Kitty Komfort

Therapy cat Teapot, like several other volunteer therapy felines at Love Kuching Project, is one unique furry individual who exchanges her precious cat-napping time for some quality time with residents from nursing homes, special schools, and/or childcare centres.

Therapy cats provide relaxation, emotional comfort and assist in physical healing to the seniors in nursing homes, students, as well as children and young adults with special needs.

According to Love Kuching Project, residents from nursing homes, for example, are “encouraged to pick a toy and play with the cats or groom them so as to aid their mobility”.

Special needs students “gain social skills during their interaction with the cats [as] cats are companions that are scientifically proven elevate poor emotional moods. The calm natures of our therapy cats also help promote the love for cats in general, replacing that fear or any misconception towards felines with acceptance.”

Besides, a kitty in the lap provides comfort unlike any other.

 

Name: Teapot
Owner’s name: Jess Ong
Occupation: Therapy cat/Feline Therapist
Age: 5
Breed: “Singapore Special” Cat/Rescue cat

 

So, tell us more about yourself?

Teapot: I’m 5 years old, [and] I’m proud to be a “Singapore Special” aka rescue cat from Love Kuching Project! In my free time I love demanding cuddles, catching lizards and (disturbing the human when she’s) playing Dota 2. I also like having staycation[s] at Love Kuching Project Outreach volunteer aunties’ homes.

 

How long have you been a therapy cat? And what entails being a therapy cat?

Teapot: I’ve been a feline therapist for almost 2 years for Love Kuching Project. It is very very hard work . . . napping for hours and hours!

teapot_home2

Teapot the therapy cat
Photo courtesy of Jess Ong

What got you into therapy work?

Teapot: Kieran (Love Kuching Project’s first therapy cat) sabo me! She got adopted . . . so I [was] trained to replace her.

 

What is a typical day at work (being a therapy cat)?

Teapot: Before leaving home, the human puts a harness on me for safety and sometimes I get calming supplements. Then, we head out to our clients who are screened [for] feline therapy. When with clients, I prefer to snooze and cuddle with them. I’m not young already so [I’ll] leave the playing to the kittens! If I’m tired, I will meow at my human, who will let me rest in my bag for the rest of the session. Sometimes I “geh geh” (pretend to be tired) haha!

 

Could you tell us a little more about what therapy work entails?

Teapot: At the end of the day, it’s about bringing joy [to the clients]; not just by being cute, but [through] human interaction. You get to know [the clients], and they get to know you. It’s [a] win-win [situation] when we [build] friendships with the clients. It’s also an excuse to meet my favorite Love Kuching Project outreach staff who spoil me rotten.

teapot_rainbowcentre

Teapot interacting with children during a therapy session at Rainbow Centre
Photo courtesy of Jess Ong

What are some of the challenges Teapot faces at work?  

Jess: Sometimes there are things the [we] cannot control like the weather and [lack thereof] air conditioning. Random loud noises are also very scary [for the feline therapists], but we humans try to make sure that doesn’t happen.

 

What are some of your favourite things about working as a therapy cat?

Teapot: I love cuddling [with] the aunties and uncles (clients). They are very gentle and comfy to sleep on! I also like catching up withmy fellow therapy cats and volunteers.

Jobs For Pets: Therapy Cat

Teapot resting with a friend
Photo courtesy of Jess Ong

teapot_renci

Teapot cuddling with an elderly client at Ren Ci Nursing Home
Photo courtesy of Jess Ong

Any advice for pets or owners who are interested in this career?

Teapot and Jess: Just try lah!

You won’t know until you try. It’s not really work when you are hanging out with your friends and making new ones!

 

Are there any products from Ah Beng Pet Store that you would like to recommend?

Teapot recommends and personally uses these products:

Teapot loves catnip, and Yeow’s catnip is very strong… she loves it!

As a therapy cat, she needs her regular doses of revolution as she goes outdoors a lot.

As a former Love Kuching Cat, she eats Addiction Venison, Brushtail, Salmon and Unagi flavors. Addiction is a value for money and healthy option brand. Her current favorite is the Venison flavour.

 

Getting Catty With Therapy

If you’re a furry feline looking for a job, perhaps you might want to consider becoming a therapy cat. There are many humans who would knead (need) your affections.

If you’re interested in being a therapy cat, check out the hiring requirements/guidelines (by Love Kuching Project). They always have their ears forward and tails up for volunteer feline therapists. Reach out to them at outreach@lovekuchingproject.org for more information.

Jobs For Pets: Therapy Cat

1 Comment to “ Jobs For Pets: Therapy Cat”

  1. […] nap. Besides rehabilitating and caring for their residents, they also have a dedicated and ongoing cat therapy project, where they conduct cat therapy sessions for seniors in nursing homes, students, as well as […]

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