animals as healers

The Cat’s Purr: A Biomechanical Healing Mechanism?

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We all know how wonderful it is to be around a purring cat. If there’s anything more soothing than to be lulled to sleep or woken up by the sound of purring, I don’ t know what it is. But a cat’s purr is not only calming and relaxing: research shows that the cat’s purr has healing properties and can actually heal bones, muscles and tendons.Continue Reading

Cat Therapy Transforms Autistic Child’s Life

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Much has been written about how pets can help autistic children, but most of the accounts are about dogs and horses. Today, I’d like to share a very special story about how a Maine Coon kitten helped an autistic little girl.

Guest post by Arabella Carter-Johnson

Looking at a photograph of my 4-year-old daughter Iris, you wouldn’t think that she was any different than any other 4-year-old little girl. And yet, she is. Iris is autistic. She is not speaking yet and has great trouble with interacting with others, but expresses herself through movement and art. Since her diagnosis in 2012, with the help of many experts, we were able to learn about how we could help our daughter. Iris changed dramatically in just a short space of time. Continue Reading

Therapy Cats: Sharing the Gift of Purring

Oreo Therapy Cat

Research has shown that cats have healing powers. Not only does petting a cat lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart attack, the cat’s purr can actually heal muscles, tendons and bones. Those of us who share our lives with cats don’t need research studies to prove that a purring cat in our lap or by our side can make all the world’s problems seem a little bit less daunting.

Therapy cats share these healing powers with a wider audience than just their human family members. They bring comfort and joy to nursing home residents and others who are unable to keep their own pets. They provide a much needed break in the daily routine for facility residents and staff alike, along with the special kind of love that can only come from a cat.Continue Reading

Review: Crazy Critter Lady by Kelly Meister

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I love stories by writers whose life has been saved by the love of an animal, or two or three. In Crazy Critter Lady, Kelly Meister shares her stories of the animals who share her life: cats, horses, ducks, even birds, chipmunks and helpless mice.

From the publisher:

In a world where animals are often seen as impediments to progress or expendable pests, Crazy Critter Lady is the story of one woman’s determination to do the right thing for the animals around her. Kelly Meister goes out on a limb – and sometimes a half-frozen pond – to help injured birds, mice and chipmunks, homeless “Aflac” ducks, cranky horses, lost frogs and a host of others. When she’s not chasing squirrels out of the road, the author waits on her five demanding cats hand and foot. Crazy Critter Lady, a memoir, is the story of a love affair with animals. Continue Reading

Kitties for Kids brings kitten therapy to the community of Newtown

Kitties for Kids Newtown

When news of the shooting in Newtown started breaking, Robin Olson watched, along with the rest of the world, horrified at what was happening in her community: the shooter lived only a few streets away from her Sandy Hook home. Robin shared her emotions in a gripping series of blog posts titled The Saddest Place on Earth: Sandy Hook, CT. But writing about it wasn’t enough. Robin wanted to help her community heal.

Out of the sadness, pain and horror, Robin created something beautiful: her program, Kitties for Kits, offers playtime, pets and purrs with the kittens she fosters for her rescue group, Kitten Associates. “I saw what happened to this town, and like everybody else, I wanted to do something,” said Robin in an interview with NBC News New York.Continue Reading

Review and giveaway: The Cat Who Came Back for Christmas by Julia Romp

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When the publicist for The Cat Who Came Back for Christmas: How a Cat Brought a Family The Gift of Love, a book about the author’s young autistic son and the cat that changed both their lives, asked me whether I would be interested in reviewing the book, I immediately agreed. It’s no secret that I love stories about cats who change and heal their humans’ lives.

From the publisher:

Julia’s nine-year-old son George was autistic. Quiet and withdrawn, he appeared lost in his own world. Then one day a small black-and-white stray cat appeared in her garden and George’s face lit up. George bonded with Ben and began to open up to his mother as well. For three happy years, the trio was inseparable and George made remarkable progress. But then disaster struck–Ben went missing and George regressed. The weeks turned into months, and Christmas was fast approaching, but on December 21, Julia got a call from a family more than fifty miles away, which finally offered a ray of hope . . . Genuinely touching, “The Cat Who Came Back for Christmas” is a story about devotion, love, and a holiday miracle.

This book has all the ingredients that usually make me love a cat story.Continue Reading

Review: Animal Attraction by Anna David

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I recently got my first Kindle, and not surprisingly, the first few books I downloaded were all cat books. After downloading my own Buckley’s Story, which I had never seen on a Kindle, Animal Attraction was next. I had already started a wish list of books that were only available on Kindle even before I bought one, and David’s book was at the top of that list. The totally adorable cover alone would have sold me on it even before I read the description!

From the publisher:

Anna David never expected to end up a crazy cat lady. A successful author (Party Girl, Bought, Reality Matters, Falling For Me) and dating expert for numerous television shows (including The Today Show, The CBS Morning Show and G4’s Attack of the Show), David had every reason to imagine that at this point in her life, she’d be sharing her bed with a man and not two four-legged furballs. In Animal Attraction, the author that The New York Post credits with creating the subgenre “Chick Lit With a Message,” shares the unusual journey she took from fun-loving party gal to obsessive cat mom. The result is an uproarious, poignant, and painfully honest tribute that’s sure appeal to pet (and people) lovers everywhere.

I love stories in which cats change their humans’ life. Continue Reading

Review and giveaway: Enchanting Lily by Anjali Banerjee

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The publicist’s e-mail asking me whether I’d be interested in reviewing Enchanting Lily read “Anjali Banerjee’s charming and whimsical women’s fiction novel is the story of a young widow whose eyes are opened to the magic and fortune all around her by the arrival of a special white cat.” I was hooked before I even had the book in my hands!

I enjoy well-written womens’ fiction, and of course, I love it even more when there’s a cat prominently featured as part of the story. In Enchanting Lily, we meet Lily Byrne, a young widow who is leaving Seattle and the memories of her life with her husband there to start over in a small town on an island in Puget Sound. Almost on a whim, she buys a charming cottage and decides to open a vintage clothing boutique. When a white cat arrives on her doorsteop, she has no intentions of keeping her. But the cat, and the universe, have other plans for Lily. The story follows Lily’s healing journey, which is intricately linked to the cat and the human inhabitants of this small community.

Told from both Lily’s and the cat’s perspective, Continue Reading

Book Review: The Blessings of the Animals by Katrina Kittle

The title of this book reeled me in immediately, as did the cover – even though I’m not a horse person, the bond depicted between woman and horse touched my heart.  When I read the endorsement by Sara Gruen, the author of Water for Elephants, on the back of the book, I was intrigued:  “A must read not only for animal lovers, but for anyone who has found the courage to come back from heartbreak and find love again, without reservation, without fear.”  Another endorsement, by Lesley Kagan, author of Tomorrow River, “Wonderfully poignant… A deeply satisfying exploration of love in its many incarnations, some of them a bit furrier than others,” sealed the deal.  And I wasn’t disappointed.  Far from it – these two endorsements barely scratch the surface of how wonderful this book is.

The Blessings of the Animals is the story of Ohio veterinarian Cami Anderson.  From the publisher:  Cami has hit a rough patch. Stymied by her recent divorce, she wonders if there are secret ingredients to a happy, long-lasting marriage or if the entire institution is outdated and obsolete. Couples all around her are approaching important milestones. Her parents are preparing to celebrate their fiftieth anniversary. Her brother and his partner find their marriage dreams legally blocked. Her former sister-in-law—still her best friend—is newly engaged. The youthfully exuberant romance of her teenage daughter is developing complications. And three separate men—including her ex-husband—are becoming entangled in Cami’s messy post-marital love life.   But as she struggles to come to terms with her own doubts amid this chaotic circus of relationships, Cami finds strange comfort in an unexpected confidant: an angry, unpredictable horse in her care. With the help of her equine soul mate, she begins to make sense of marriage’s great mysteries—and its disconnects.

The horse is not the only animal who helps Cami heal.  There’s a dog, two cats, one of them a cranky but ultimately loving three-legged one whose life was saved by Cami, a joyful goat, and a pregnant donkey.  Cami’s form of prayer is being in the presence of animals.  As someone who’s always turned to animals for healing and finding peace myself, I was deeply touched by the segments of the book when Cami goes to what she calls her “church”- her barn.  Being in the company of her animals never fails to work its magic for Cami, no matter how painful the twists and turns of her life have become.  Kittle’s sensitive descriptions of the animals and their unique personalities are delightful and are an integral part of the story. 

This is a beautifully written and plotted relationship drama with wonderful, multi-dimensional characters, both human and furry.  I had a hard time putting this book down, but forced myself to read slowly and savor every page.  I didn’t want it to end – and by the time it did, I felt like I knew all the characters as well as if they had been lifelong friends.

Katrina is the author of Traveling Light, Two Truths and a Lie, and The Kindness of Strangers.  When not writing, Katrina enjoys gardening, cooking, traveling, acting, and time spent in the presence of animals (especially horses). She is the proud aunt of Amy and Nathan, and lives in the Dayton area with her cat and a kickass garden.  You can learn more about Katrina and her books on her website.

The Healing Power of Cats

There are many stories of animals as healers. Research shows that simply petting a cat or dog can lower your blood pressure. Therapy animals who visit nursing homes and hospices bring peace and joy to patients who may not have smiled in months. There are stories of horses who help people heal emotional and psychological issues, stories about dogs who can somehow sense cancer in people, even before doctors can find it, and dogs who can tell when a person is about to have a seizure. At one time or another, all pet owners have experienced the comfort of having our pets close by when we are sick even with something minor like a cold or the flu. Research has even shown that the frequency of a cat’s purr can aid with healing of bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles as well as provide pain relief. 

I’ve met a number of these healer kitties during my years of working at veterinary clinics.  They would work their magic in various ways – by curling up next to a recovering cat or dog, by cuddling up to a worried client in the waiting room, or by comforting a staff member who had just assisted with a difficult case or a euthanasia. But none of these cats was more of a healer than Buckley, the subject of my book Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher. 

Buckley would do all of the things mentioned above while she lived at the animal hospital.  After she came home with me, she became my assistant Reiki practitioner.  Reiki is an energy therapy that originated in Japan.  As a Reiki Master Practitioner, I transfer energy to my client by placing my hands either directly on or slightly off the body.  I work with pets and with people, and I’ve found that animals, especially cats, are incredibly receptive to the Reiki energy.  Some even say cats invented Reiki.  While that may be a little far fetched, cats seem to intuitively how to utilize the energy for their greatest good. 

Buckley loved being in the Reiki room while I was giving treatments, and as long as the person receiving a treatment liked cats and did not mind Buckley’s presence, she was allowed to stay. But just being in the room was usually not enough for her—she became an active participant in the healing session. She would get up on the Reiki table and often curl up next to or on top of the client. I realized after a few sessions like this that she intuitively knew where extra energy was needed, and the client would often report an added feeling of heat or pulsing in the areas where Buckley had been situated during the session. I often skipped the areas Buckley laid on during a session and concentrated on others instead. I knew my little healer kitty had it covered. 

I think she also transmuted the energy in the house in general. All cats do this to some degree. Cats are sensitive to energies and have the ability to change negative energies into something peaceful and calming. Buckley seemed to be a master at this. More people commented on the peaceful energy in my house after she came to live with us than ever before. 

Animals bring a spiritual component to healing as well. Buckley’s intuitive knowing during a Reiki session about where the energy was needed came from a spiritual dimension. It takes many human Reiki practitioners years of practice to achieve that level of intuitiveness.

How have the animals in your life helped you heal?  I’d love to hear your stories.