Small in size, perfect to snuggle with and fairly low maintenance, cats seem specially made for relieving stress. And some of them really take on this job. Therapy cats and emotional support cats can play an important role in the recovery and comfort of many people dealing with illnesses, disabilities or for those simply looking for a cuddly companion.
As if we needed another reason to love our furry friends even more, these amazing cats can be found snuggling elderly people for a bit of extra support, playing with autistic children to offer them that much-needed friendship or even going for walks with people dealing with mobility issues or those who need exercise.
Keep reading to discover more about therapy cats and the awesome breeds that are on a mission to make people of all ages feel loved and supported.
What is a therapy cat?
Therapy cats have particular skills and are trained to offer comfort and support in various settings including schools, nursing homes or centres for disabled people. The best cats for the job have calm, mild demeanours and can help people emotionally and physically by reducing stress, anxiety and increasing their mobility.
The 10 best therapy and emotional support cats
They are usually outgoing and love people so much that it’s impossible not to fall for their affectionate and friendly demeanour. That’s exactly what makes them such good candidates for therapy cat roles.
The Persian is a favourite in the world of emotional support cats. And for good reason! Their soft coat is perfect for delightful cuddles and their calm personality means that they can be equally comfortable around kids and elderly people. This sweet and gentle cat can help ease anxiety and be there for people who just need a moment to be calm and take a breath.
Ragdolls are docile creatures who love nothing more than some human company. This can make them a good choice for people who feel lonely or in need of emotional support. While some cats might take their time before coming out of their hiding place to interact with humans, the Ragdoll has no qualms about snuggling on the lap of someone they just met. Their gentle nature and inherent kindness mean these cats are always open for cuddles.
This is why you might find them playing and going for walks with elderly people or making kids laugh with their never-ending love for toys and games. They are fun and sweet – some of the best qualities in any friend, even furry ones!
Siamese cats are always there when you need them. They tend to bond strongly with one person, which is why they are recommended when the help of an emotional support cat is needed. They are also quite vocal, so people looking for companionship are guaranteed to have plenty of “conversations” with their new furry friend.
Manx cats are famous for their missing tail, but it’s their social and affectionate disposition that truly steals the show. They tend to have one favourite human and shower them with all the love and snuggles they can muster. No wonder they are such a good cat for emotional support. Cat play is another favourite way for them to spend time with their human. These cats can easily provide a fun mood-booster right when you need it. However potential owners should be aware that the lack of a tail is caused by a genetic defect, and Manx cats are at a higher risk of spinal problems and arthritis.
These cats may lack fur, but their big heart makes up for it. They are gentle, sweet and almost dog-like in their inherent friendliness. They like to stay glued to their human, sometimes to get warm since there is no fur to accomplish that task. But that means these felines are extremely cuddly – perfect for anyone who needs that extra comfort and support! The Sphynx tend to crave a lot of attention, but they also give it back in spades.
Playful and undemanding, the Russian Blue is another wonderful breed that can do a great job as a therapy cat. They tend to keep cool and collected even in an emergency and are very affectionate and easy to get along with. These kittens do have to go through a few training sessions to get rid of their natural wariness of strangers, but once they’ve been properly socialised, they’ll be happy to cuddle and purr on your lap for ages!
One of the most good-natured cats, the American Bobtail, is a professional when it comes to offering comfort and support when needed. They become fast friends with anyone, young or old, they are extremely adaptable and, thanks to their striking orange fur, find it easy to get in the kids’ good books. Plus, they’re one of the most playful cat breeds, so they can help increase exercise and mobility with games and walks outside. However, as with some other pedigree breeds, the American Bobtail can suffer with health issues and new owners need to be fully aware of these before considering this breed.
Ragamuffin cats are well suited to being a trusted companion in schools or nursing homes. These gorgeous cats originate from Ragdolls but they are quite rare in the UK. They come with silky soft fur that seems specially created for cosy snuggles. They are super-friendly, a much-needed trait for good therapy cats, and thrive on human contact and affection. These cats are professional stress-busters, bringing a good mood wherever they go. They like to play and will make you laugh with their amusing antics.
It's not a surprise that the most affectionate breeds make the best therapy and emotional support cats. But the gorgeous kittens on this list are not the only people-loving felines out there. How about a straightforward tabby? Or a sleek black domestic short-hair. But if you want to discover even more friendly cat breeds, take a look at our breakdown of the most easy-going companions you can wish for.