One of the youngest fields of zoo-therapy is a form of contact therapy that uses cats. Premises of this therapy are similar to dogo-therapy. The name felinotherapy derives from two words – felis (Latin) – cat and therapeia (Greek) – care, treatment.
Felinotherapy is good for:
Beside psychological benefits felinotherapy also influences physical health. Contact with a cat lowers blood pressure, the level of triglycerides and blood cholesterol, thus lowers the risk of heart and circulatory system diseases. Moreover, stroking, hugging, lifting, and feeding a cat is the most pleasant gymnastics that you can imagine. Exercises that you do during these actions improve joint mobility and lower aches and pains relating to rheumatism. People who take part in classes with animals increase their activity not only for the duration of those classes but also for a long time after them.
Felinotherapy can be used for the benefit of:
Shy and socially withdrawn healthy children who want to develop their emotional intelligence, artistic expression, empathy, for the benefit of hospital patients (it helps them bear the illness).
The sole presence provides healing care, and their touch is relaxing, soothing for various disorders and problems of adults and elderly people. A definite contraindication for using this type of therapy is cat hair allergy.
Elements used during group sessions with a cat:
This kind of therapy finds its application in the USA, Sweden, and the UK. It appeared in Poland at the end of 2005. Therapists work with cats in nursing houses, senior’s houses, prisons and children’s homes. Session can be conducted individually or in a group. Felinotherapy is used successfully in Sweden in relation to autistic and sexually abused children. Cats efficiently assist in working with anxiety, overcoming behaviours and barriers. People influenced by cats have better mood, improved activity. On the other hand, prisoners get gentle and that can significantly influence their resocialization.
Felinotherapist is a person who leads therapeutic classes that use cats. One of the precursors of this method is Mirosław Tomasz Wende, breeder of pedigree cats, exotic and Persian breeds. He leads classes with children in the Complex of Schools No. 6 in Torun, with adults in the Nursing Home in Torun. Felinotherapy is not only stroking cats and communing with them during classes, it is also a task set of pedagogues, teachers and therapists who want to build proper relations and programs for conducting other subject and therapeutic classes. In Poland, a wide initiative of starting therapeutic work with cats in relation to the disabled and social care institutions has been taken up by “Mruczący Terapeuta” from Olsztyn.
Conditions that have to be met by cats in order for them to take part in fitotherapy:
"Szczytem szczęścia dla kota jest uwaga, rozmowa,
pieszczoty i miłość ze strony człowieka;
a dla ludzi nic nie może być pochlebniejszego
niż przywiązanie istoty tak dalece niezależnej."
Eugen Skasa - Weiss