Friday, 21 August 2009

The Therapy of Animals.

I wanted to talk about my cats for a moment.
Animals are so therapeutic for people, especially those who are ill or have mental or physical issues.
We have two cats, which I am sure you are aware of!!
They are our babies. But they are more to us than just being our pets.
I grew up with animals in my life. My parents had Newfoundlands and they used to show them at dog shows - they even got to Crufts a couple of times! They bred from them too. But it was never as a serious, competitive business. The dogs that we had were doted on by all of us. They were a real part of our fami
When Martin & I bought this house, Martin suggested that we got a cat. I wasn't so sure, having grown up with dogs, but I agreed and we got our first cat - Pudney. I was hooked!
Within a year of being in this house and having Pudney, I started to get my symptoms, which eventually became MS.
I was off work, the job I had at that time, was in an office. So I was spending a lot of time at home on my own, because Martin was out at work. So Pudney was my company. He and I would cuddle up on the sofa together, and he was a great comfort when I was feeling ill.
We had Pudney for three and a half years before we lost him, suddenly. It was such a shock and he was only about 6 years old. We don't really know what happened, but he had breathing problems and the vet just couldn't save him.
We were distraught. Partly because it happened so suddenly, so we weren't prepared, but also because he was such a part of our family.
Some people need time to grieve when they lose a pet and can't think about having another one for a long time. We weren't like that though.
It wasn't that we wanted to move on and forget about Pudney - anything but that. But, the house felt empty. I didn't have my company and my comfort anymore. And Martin really felt it too. He has a real soft spot for cats, so having our own was really important to him.
We discussed it at length and decided that we really needed another cat. That weekend, we went to the Blue Cross rescue centre and had a look around. There were a few we could choose from, if we felt we wanted them. We said we would like to go for an older cat, because the younger ones always get homed easily, where as the older ones get left.
We were introduced to this very sorrowful looking cat. He was about six years old and at the time, was named Poppy, even though HE was a boy!! We were told that he had been with another cat, but that the other one had been homed. He had been with the Blue Cross for about four months, so of course, we felt sorry for him. We spent some time with him, he was very nervous and we could see he would need a lot of TLC.
We decided, he was the one. A couple of weeks later I bought him home. We changed his name to Barnaby, much more suitable!!
We have had him for about four and a half years now. He is still a big scaredy cat and he always will be. But he is happy and settled here. He loves his cuddles and can be a right character at times!
He is certainly not a replacement for Pudney. Pudney will always be special. He was our first cat and will always be in our hearts.

In 2007 we were thinking about whether we wanted to get another cat. We thought it could possibly be good for Barnaby to have a companion, after all he had come from being a pair anyway. We were very conscious of not upsetting him though.
We went to Animals In Distress, which is where Pudney came from. We had decided this time, that we would look for a young one and preferably a girl. This was so that it was totally opposite to Barnaby. We looked around and then came across a six month old who had just been brought in, the day before. She was called Kit Kat and she looked so cute!
We asked if we could go in and see her and see what she was like. The people on reception, were very wary of us being with her. They said she was vicious and not very friendly. We said we still wanted to try. So we did.
She was so lovely with us and let us cuddle her. Our minds were made up, we said she was the one!
So a week or so later we bought her home. We kept her separate from Barnaby, in one room and let Barnaby see that she was there. Then after a day or two, we introduced them and the have tolerated each other ever since!!

But why I wanted to do this post, is because I believe that animal interaction, is really important for people who have medical issues.
Certainly, from my experience, having the cats about, is company for me when Martin is not here, but they also provide some comfort for me too. They seem to know when I am having a bad day and will come and sit with me or let me fuss them and cuddle them. I can guarantee that I get a lift from that!
My mum had one of her dogs registered as a PAT dog. That stands for Pets As Therapy. She would take Jazzmine into the local children's ward of the local hospital and let them pet her and stroke her. It would give the children a real lift. And one of the children, who had some serious communication issues, would brighten up every time Mum went in with Jazzmine.
But not only was it good for the children though, it was great for my Mum, she got so much pleasure out of doing it, that it was really fulfilling for her.

An Update on Me!
I have my next Tysabri Infusion on Tuesday. I am praying that the cannula problems won't be so bad this time. We are looking at them putting a line in for me, so that I don't have the stress of them trying to find a vein. It would mean that I always have a line in though, which would need a lot of care and attention, but I will take that over the pain and bruises of being cannulated.
We are going away tomorrow for the weekend. Down to Bournemouth to visit some of Martin's relatives. We are really looking forward to it. Just to get away and have a change of scenery. I think we both need the break and need to clear our heads.
There is also an air show going on in Bournemouth this weekend so we will be spending the day at that on Sunday. Expect lots of pictures of planes next week!!
I am hoping that having a break, just before the infusion, will mean that I am a little more relaxed - we'll see!!

Wishing everyone a great weekend, I hope is a good one for you all!


  1. I agree. Life just wouldn't be the same without our furry friends.

  2. My cats & dogs are my salvation on bad days. I have always had an animal .. cats will sleep with me, talk with me ... and get my mind off of this old body I live in.

    I hope you have a restful weekend

  3. I couldn't agree more. My dog was practically human in his understanding of my emotions and the therapy of petting our friends can't be underestimated.

  4. Amen! Our cats, we have had up to three at a time, always seemed to adapt beyond human levels to MS progression. Then again, Patti's wheelchair creates a permanent lap, kind of a cat's dream come true.:)

    Caregivingly Yours, Patrick

  5. Hi Amelia,
    Have a great weekend, yippee the cricket is getting very exciting!!

  6. My life would be very empty without a dog or a cat (I love both). Herrad is allergic to cats or we would probably have a cat as well.
    Great that you gave rescue animals a chance. Both my dogs were re-homed (one from a rescue one privately for medical reasons) and they pay me back with so much fun and so much love.
    I hope you did not scare your cats too much when Swan took that last wicket- my dogs were worried for a moment-Yipeee!