Med. Weter. 68 (12), 732-735, 2012

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Goleman M., Drozd L., Karpiński M., Czyżowski P.:
Cat therapy as an alternative form of animal-assisted therapy
Animal assisted therapy has a positive effect on many human diseases. It facilitates recovery from disturbances in mental and physical health. Scientifically demonstrated positive animal impact on people has resulted in more and more new species of animals being introduced to the therapy. Among them there has been the cat. Thus feline therapy appeared. Contact with this animal is pleasant: it is not a kind of painful rehabilitation. The presence of a cat improves the mood and reduces the feeling of loneliness. A person taking part in the therapy is stimulated to act and take on various forms of activity, such as playing with the pet, feeding it, etc. so they receive a lot of positive stimuli. Physical contact with a cat stimulates the human body to secrete endorphins, lowers blood pressure, blood triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood, it also stimulates the immune system to action. However, years of research and observation have shown that although animals support the treatment of diseases, not every animal can be favorably received by the person with impaired health. Therefore, the therapy must be chosen so that the patient does not fear an animal or experience psychological discomfort. Feline therapy may constitute a good alternative, for example, for dog therapy. The use of feline therapy in therapeutic programs in nursing homes, orphanages, care centers, kindergartens, schools, hospitals, hospices obtains positive results, and its application in closed institutions (prisons, substance abuse treatment centers) supports the rehabilitation of inmates. Nevertheless one must not forget that feline therapy, similarly as therapy using other animals, is only a complement to traditional treatment and cannot replace rehabilitation.
Key words: Aniamal-assisted therapy, feline therapy, cat, pet therapy