Why do we have so many cats at THE CRADLE OF HOPE? Firstly, our CEO loves cats and can’t resist saving one. Secondly, pets add value to people’s lives. In the past, cats and kittens were often dropped off at our doorstep, and we could not stand seeing these helpless animals suffer.
The use of animals in therapy, or Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT), has been gaining traction in recent years as a viable treatment option for various physical, mental, and emotional ailments, as it can positively affect the overall quality of life. It has been used to treat everything from depression and anxiety to physical disabilities and learning disabilities.
AAT typically involves using various animals, including horses, dogs, cats, birds, and rabbits. Each type of animal has unique benefits, and the type of animal used depends on the patient’s needs. For example, horses are often used to help people with physical disabilities, as they can provide physical support and help with balance while walking. On the other hand, dogs can provide emotional support and companionship, often used to help people with mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.
At THE CRADLE OF HOPE, we have three properties housing vulnerable women and their children. We experience that the cats, and one small dog, that we have at these properties provide several benefits to the beneficiaries living in these houses. They provide companionship, emotional support, and a sense of responsibility, which can help to reduce feelings of isolation and depression.
Pets can also help to improve physical health, as caring for a pet can provide a sense of purpose and encourage individuals to exercise regularly and other healthy behaviours. Additionally, pets can help to create a sense of community within a place of safety, as individuals may bond over their shared love for their pets.
The value of AAT is becoming more widely recognized. The value of AAT lies in its ability to provide a non-invasive, natural, and non-pharmaceutical approach to treating physical and mental health issues. Research has shown that AAT can reduce stress levels, improve mood, and even reduce the need for medications. Additionally, AAT can be an effective tool for teaching social skills and developing positive relationships.
Pets such as dogs and cats can be trained as therapy animals and brought into hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centres to provide comfort and companionship to patients and residents who may be dealing with chronic illnesses, disabilities, or other difficult circumstances.
Service animals, such as guide dogs, can assist people with physical disabilities and help them navigate daily life more easily.
Some prisons have programs that allow inmates to care for and bond with pets, providing a sense of purpose and responsibility and helping to reduce stress and anxiety. Pets can provide emotional support to military service members and veterans dealing with combat trauma or other difficult experiences.
Children dealing with difficult circumstances such as illness, disability, or the loss of a loved one can find comfort and companionship in a pet. They can also learn about responsibility, empathy, and other valuable life skills by caring for their pet.
We have seen how a lady or child, withdrawn and isolated due to trauma, slowly reacts to the love and affection given to them by our CRADLE pets. They have become a fundamental part of the healing process. Animals do not judge. They show love and respect and seem to understand when our ladies and children need care.
Studies have also shown that contact with animals releases dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin which are the feel-good hormones. You can boost levels of these hormones with something as simple as hugging and caring for a pet.