THE FIGG&PROWLE WAY

Siberian therapy cats and emotional support animals for families with special needs, or during transition or recovery

 

There’s magic in each cat’s energy, how she changes our spaces, how she draws out the true emotions in our people. There’s also magic in each family’s unique circumstances. Our job is to match you with the perfect friend to help both precious abilities grow.

Our cats within animal-assisted therapy

Siberians are always a delight to have around. They provide more than just companionship and entertainment, however. Cats can be a tremendous help in animal-assisted therapy and as emotional support in families.

The benefits of animals in therapy are proven – in one study, when cats were present during a therapy session:

  • Depressed patients were more social, and experienced decreases in depression.
  • Children with severe ADHD showed increased attention spans.
  • Autistic or developmentally disabled patients were more social, and showed increased attention spans.
  • Patients with Alzheimer’s experienced decreases in depression and anger, with increased

 

For small things, big things and everything in-between

There is something about the presence of a cat that seems to allow people to become a little more emotionally open than they otherwise might be. Think about it. How many times have you left the noise and crowd of a party to go talk with the cat in a quiet room? Animals give people who are feeling pressure or stress a pathway to a safer space, both physically and emotionally. And cats present the opportunity to simply connect with another living being in a simple and honest way. By watching how a cat lives in the moment, how they enjoy their environment, and how they react to physical sensations, people to learn how to simply “be” rather than constantly living in their “heads.”

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Z is a wonderful kid who was struggling with executive functioning disorder and having frequent autism-related meltdowns. Her caregivers focused on helping Z work through the steps of caring for her Siberian therapy cat, gradually empowering Z to make decisions with less and less guidance. Z’s confidence and self-efficacy have improved dramatically, and the cat is doing pretty awesome too!

Z's story

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M is an adult with unlimited potential, but is medically fragile and in recovery. M often isolates, and struggles to maintain a consistent schedule of meals and activities. Enter Blueberry, who not only reminds M that meals and self-care are important but fosters lasting recovery with unconditional love and acceptance. Since Blueberry arrived, M's stability has increased and medical results have improved as well.

M's story

For individuals, families, and caregivers

We embrace special-needs families and those in transition or after trauma. You are welcome to apply for a Siberian kitten or therapy cat as part of your journey toward the best your family can be.

We ask that you show that you have the ability to care for the cat, and we expect that the highest-needs people in your family will not have the sole responsibility for the cat. With that support system in place, we find that a calm, confident Siberian therapy cat (emotional support animal) can be a vital part of healing and wholeness.

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Special needs:

families with neurodiverse members, seniors, or those with disabilities

Siberian cats are cats – no more, no less. But they are cats with an unusual amount of tolerance, a calm and social nature, and a higher threshold before they will respond with aggression.

In other words, the needs, actions, reactions, and noises of special needs kids and families don’t bother them, and handling them in an inexpert way is much less likely to make them scratch or bite.

Practices and businesses

Within a therapy or counseling practice, a stable and nonthreatening animal presence can help to open lines of communication, manage conflict, and build emotional connections. Siberian cats never met a stranger, and give of themselves freely. They seem to know who needs them the most, and you’ll find them seeking out those who are vulnerable.

Within private businesses, libraries, schools, and even large firms, cats can bring a huge amount of peace and happiness to the work environment. Office cats attract more customers, cut down on stress, and pay their own salary by keeping the rodent population down.

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Transition:

the period of finding equilibrium after a loss, divorce, move, or other traumatic event.

Taking care of animals directly teaches empathy and service to others, especially when taking care of them isn’t convenient. Animals also teach about the importance of assertiveness and consistency in relationships.

Therapy cats and other emotional support animals can be true partners in the healing process.

Research on animal-assisted therapy

Animal-assisted therapy at Mayo Clinic: The time is now. Edward T. Creagan, Brent A.Bauer, et al.
Pets enhance the quality of life of patients especially regarding aging, cardiovascular diseases, and overall sense of wellness. Patients who have a heart attack and have a companion animal have a 5-fold increase in 1-year survival.
Animal-Assisted Therapy: A Meta-Analysis. Janelle Nimer & Brad Lundahl
Overall, animal-assisted therapy was associated with improving outcomes in four areas: Autism-spectrum symptoms, medical difficulties, behavioral problems, and emotional well-being.

Questions about cats as therapy partners

Are you selling or placing "service cats"?

No. Only dogs and miniature horses are legally considered service animals. Cats can be therapy animals (used in conjunction with a therapy program to provide healing and comfort to those who need it) or emotional support animals (animals that help people with disabilities, including emotional issues, but are not specially trained to do work or tasks).

Can I take my cat into stores or restaurants?

No. Emotional support animals and therapy animals are not allowed the same kind of public access that service dogs are entitled to. Emotional support animals are allowed in no-pet housing under FHA rules, and on planes under ACAA rules, but they are not given access to businesses or government entities.

Does a therapy or ESA cat really make a difference?

Absolutely! When a tolerant, accepting, loving cat is part of a structured and supervised program, it can make a huge difference both in the self-esteem and the emotional wholeness of the entire family.

What situations and conditions are a good fit for a therapy or ESA cat?

Autism, anxiety, depression, and ADHD in children are natural matches for a loving cat. In adults, emotional disabilities, physical transitions (such as recovery from injury or disease), and memory loss are often helped.

Our most common inquiries are from families that haven’t identified a specific disability, but are going through changes that they think a new family member could help. They want to make sure they’re getting the right cat, one chosen specifically for their situation and with behavioral and health support for life.

How long does it take to be matched with a therapy or ESA cat?

In each litter, we reserve kittens in the following priorities:

  • If we are keeping a kitten for our own breeding program, that kitten is set aside first
  • If we are looking for a therapy or ESA match, we consider that placement second. If there is a suitable kitten in the litter, they will receive that kitten.
  • Pet/companion placements are made third.

Most families are matched within a few months, depending on our breeding schedule. You may see that there are available or unreserved kittens on our website, even though you’re still waiting. That’s because we will not match a special family with anything but the right kitten for them.