Therapy support cats

SCP Volunteer Valerie and SCP therapy support cat Gabby  visitng a local day centreWe at SCP are keen to see our therapy support cats visit and make friends with older people whether they happen to be living in a residential care home or just popping into a day centre.

Of course all our therapy cats need to be fairly placid and willing to be touched and stroked by new people.

SCP is always on the lookout for new volunteers with cats to join us – so if you think you and your cat would be sufficiently relaxed around new people and you think your cat would be happy to wear a harness and lead then please mark your email for the attention of our cat specialist Val at therapycats@sussexcaringpets.org

SCP Volunteer Val writes

“All Sussex Caring Pets (SCP) therapy pets are special but therapy support cats are a breed apart. But then I’m biased because I’m the proud ‘servant’ of a SCP therapy cat called Gabby. Gabby (short for Gabriel) and I have been visiting as volunteers for a few years now. He’s a typical Burmese – loves people and really enjoys the extra cuddles he gets from his adoring fans at the day centre we visit.

On visiting days Gabby gets an extra grooming session too. His coat is brushed until it shines and his nails trimmed to perfection. This isn’t only for Gabby’s pleasure, although he does love having his coat brushed and the pedicure is now a game. It’s also to make sure his nails are blunt so that he doesn’t accidentally scratch someone.

At each visit I first check that no one’s allergic to or afraid of cats. Then Gabby walks around the day centre on his harness, getting a feel for the place. When he’s ready to sit down I usually sit next to someone with Gabby on my lap, letting them stroke him. If they want to hold him, I put his blanket on their lap and lift him onto them while I hold onto his lead. When Gabby closes his eyes contentedly I know he’s enjoying another adoring cuddle.

People sometimes find seeing a cat on a harness a bit strange and wonder if he’s happy wearing it. Anyone who understands cats will appreciate they don’t do anything they don’t want to do. For Gabby wearing a harness means extra cuddles and attention and new sights and smells to explore. He ‘s so used to our visiting routine now that if I’m a bit slow getting ready he sits near the drawer where his harness is kept crying for me to hurry up and put it on him. .

Those we visit really appreciate having a therapy support cat around. Some of them are lifelong cat lovers who can no longer keep a cat of their own. Recently someone told me she was so pleased to see and stroke therapy cat Gabby because he helped her forget all the bad things in the world”.