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National Therapy Animal Day 2024: When & What Is It?

Written by: Lorre Luther

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Nicole Cosgrove

Woman holding a cat

National Therapy Animal Day 2024: When & What Is It?

National Therapy Animal Day is celebrated on April 30th. It’s a time to celebrate the amazing work done by therapy animals and their human companions. The organization behind the event, Pet Partners, created it to increase awareness about the many ways in which therapy animals, including cats, improve the lives of humans every day by providing unconditional love and gentle companionship.

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What Kind of Work Does Pet Partners Do?

Pet Partners is dedicated to honoring the deep bonds shared by humans and animals and endeavors to make a positive contribution to people’s lives by bringing the benefits of therapy animals to as many people as possible.

It certifies and trains pet therapy teams and helps put volunteers in contact with organizations seeking to provide clients, students, and workers with the benefits of spending time with animals.

young woman holding cute siberian cat
Image Credit: evrymmnt, Shutterstock

What Do Therapy Cats Do?

Therapy cats are trained (along with their pet parents) to provide love and support to people in various situations. They work with their humans as teams and offer comfort and unconditional love that reduces feelings of anxiety and loneliness.

Therapy cats visit hospitals and nursing homes, and their visits may help reduce some patients’ pain and stress. They also make appearances in places like airports and schools.

Do Therapy Cats Require Special Skills?

Cats must be comfortable around people to be good therapy animal candidates. Kitties who jump at the chance to meet new people and are relaxed when encountering the unexpected make great therapy animals. Cats also need to be okay with car rides since they spend a fair amount of time on the road getting from home to wherever they need to be.

The ability to wear a harness and remain leashed while working is also key since cats must be controlled at all times during the visits. Because teams in many organizations work together, it’s beneficial for therapy cats to get along well with other animals, even dogs.

What’s the Difference Between a Therapy Cat and an Emotional Support Cat?

Therapy cats differ from emotional support animals (ESAs) because they work in large public settings and offer comfort and love. ESAs provide people with mental health conditions with individual support.

A prescription from a qualified mental health professional is required for a person to avail themselves of the benefits of an ESA. Therapy cats deliver comfort, cuddles, companionship, and unconditional love, but they aren’t trained to provide individuals with disabilities with targeted support.

Xeli the airport therapy cat.
Xeli the airport therapy cat.

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Ways To Celebrate National Therapy Animal Day

There are a few ways to get involved if you’re interested in showing your support for therapy cats on April 30th and getting in on the National Therapy Animal Day fun, such as donating or participating in a fundraising event.

1. Make a Donation

Organizations that work to certify and provide therapy cats to groups that request them are often non-profits that largely depend on donations to fund their programs and initiatives, so financial help is always welcome!

Pet Partners has a convenient form to make one-time or monthly donations online, but it’s also possible to contribute by phone or the old-fashioned way, using snail mail.

2. Participate in Treats and Sweets Day Fundraisers

Pet Partners’ Treats and Sweets Day is an opportunity to bake yummy goodies to spread love and raise money for the organization. All sorts of treats are welcome, and it’s possible to register for the fundraising event as an individual or with a team.

There are even opportunities for organizations to get in on the action. Treats and Sweets Day lasts for far longer than one day—fundraisers can be held anytime reasonably close to National Therapy Animal Day.

Image Credit: mojo-cp, Shutterstock

3. Get the Word Out

If a therapy cat visit has made your world a bit brighter, why not share it to get the word out about how valuable therapy animal programs are? It’s also an excellent opportunity for those on a therapy team to post messages and photos sharing their experiences, which can also spread awareness of how these cats contribute to their communities.

4. Consider Getting Certified

If you have a mellow, affectionate cat at home who loves people and has a roll-with-it personality, and you’re both looking to hang out with caring people and share some good vibes, you may be interested in having your buddy registered as a therapy animal! Consider getting in touch with an organization that offers certification and opportunities to volunteer.

Therapy cats can be certified through organizations such as Pet Partners and Love on a Leash that screen candidates for suitability, offer training, and facilitate volunteer placements. You may be required to pay for training opportunities and certification tests, and the process usually involves having a veterinarian provide documentation stating the cat is healthy and has been properly vaccinated.

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National Therapy Animal Day, sponsored by Pet Partners, is held on April 30th, and it’s a time to give a shout-out to the cats who don harnesses and head out into the world to bring love to people in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, airports, and libraries.

Therapy cats work with their pet parents as teams and are trained to provide comfort and unleash joy into the world through their sweet, accepting, loving presence. There are several easy ways to participate in the celebration, including getting involved in fundraising opportunities and sharing positive experiences involving therapy cats.

Featured Image Credit: VAKS-Stock Agency, Shutterstock

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