25 Emotional Support Cat Breeds That Double as Therapists
When most people hear the term “therapy animal,” they often think of a dog or horse — not a cat. However, more and more cats are being trained and used as emotional support animals.
As humans, we crave interaction, and cats can provide that without judgment or rejection. While therapy cats aren’t able to assist people with physical tasks the way a service animal would, they can help by providing companionship and easing anxiety, stress, depression and certain phobias. Having an emotional support cat has been linked to lowering blood pressure, reducing chronic pain and even helping treat cardiovascular disease.
The most important traits for a therapy cat are being trainable, friendly, patient, calm and comfortable around people of all ages and abilities. While cat owners may already know that some cats are much better at this than others, we came up with 25 emotional support cat breeds known to make people feel better and support mental health.
If you’re feeling alone in the world, the Abyssinian cat will make it their mission to make you feel loved. While they’re not super cuddly, they’re dependent on receiving love and affection, and it’s important to them to give as good as they get.
Abyssinians would work best as a personal therapy pet. They’ll follow you around and make sure you’re OK, but they’re not going to be very demonstrative, nor will they tolerate squeezing or want to sit in your lap. Sometimes, you just need a calming presence so you can take a moment and breathe.
American Bobtail cats make excellent therapy cats for everyone because of their sweet nature and easy-going temperament. They love adults, kids and even other pets. They’re adaptable, versatile and love to travel.
They’re also very pet-able with their soft, silky orange fur. Since they thrive on affection and attention, their attitude of “more is better” makes them an ideal candidate for a professional therapy cat.
American Bobtail Summary
American Shorthair cats are one of the most popular and low-maintenance breeds. They tend to be smart, even-tempered and affectionate without being too needy. If you require someone to listen to your troubles without passing judgment, the American Shorthair cat is for you.
They’re great with kids, especially those who may need extra emotional support. American Shorthairs are happy to be on call for whoever needs their kitty-caring.
American Shorthair Summary
While less vocal than Siamese cats, Balinese do like to talk and give people excellent advice, even if their human companions don’t always understand it. Balinese cats love to be held, are extremely affectionate and have long, beautiful and pettable fur.
Balinese don’t like to be left alone and need a ton of attention, so while they’re comforting you, you’d be giving them the kind of interaction that they desire.
Bengal cats are very trainable and are happy to accompany you wherever you go. They’re not overly cuddly, but they’re sweet, kind and friendly. They need a lot of attention and tend to be naughty when they don’t get it. Think of them as trusted companions.
They’re therapeutic in how they’re a cat you can turn to when you need a natural mood-booster. Their presence seems to say, “You’ve got this.”
Birman cats adore being around people and are highly adaptable to most environments, whether it’s a Burmese temple or a high-rise apartment. They’re friendly, make great companions and are very affectionate.
What makes them a good therapy cat, besides their mesmerizing blue eyes or their silky fur, is that they’re thoughtful and considerate of others. Birman cats are inherently kind and are inherently healing.
When you stroke the sleek black fur of the Bombay cat and gaze into their copper eyes, a feeling of peacefulness and relaxation comes over you. This cat breed is very people-orientated, affectionate and cuddly.
The Bombay cat is happy to curl up on the couch next to you and encourage you to talk about your worries and fears in a comforting and loving environment. They’re very intelligent, and you can tell they’re active listeners.
Burmese cats are by your side when you need them. They’re loyal, social and love being picked up and held. Did we mention they need a lot of attention? If they don’t think you’re focusing on them enough, they’ll be very vocal in their demands that you stop what you’re doing and give them some love.
Burmese make excellent emotional support cats because you can hold them and tell them what’s bothering you and know by looking into their eyes that they understand. That’s because Burmese cats are wise beyond their years.
These blue-haired beauties want to cuddle all the time and everywhere. They seem calm and relaxed because they are, and they love spending time with their people. Chartreux cats are the epitome of chill vibes and have the most easy-going personalities.
Chartreux make excellent therapy cats because not only are they soft-spoken, but the vibration of their purr also has healing properties.
Devon Rex cats want to be as close to their people as possible. They enjoy cuddling, lap-sitting and being held. If you asked a Devon Rex what their favorite thing in the world was, they’d probably tell you that it was being loved.
They make excellent therapy cats because they get along with everyone and have a way of bringing people out of their shells. Someone who isn’t able to relate to other humans may connect with a Devon Rex.
Devon Rex Summary
There’s something very comforting about the Exotic Shorthair cat’s big eyes and flat face. For a cat they’re somewhat co-dependent in their relationships. They hate being left alone and don’t enjoy going solo. They’re a quiet, affectionate and warmhearted cat.
They’re great therapy cats because they’re happy to be a full-time companion to you and will always be there when you need someone by your side. This healer is available 24/7.
Exotic Shorthair Summary
While a Himalayan cat will not be your instant best friend, once they get familiarized with you, they’re the most loyal, loving and kind-natured cat you’ll ever know. With their fur-parents, they’re very affectionate and cuddly and will bond to them for life.
Himalayan cats make great therapy cats one on one and will help their special person feel as if they’re surrounded by love and adored.
Japanese Bobtails are the kind of cat breed that gets along with everybody. They’re playful, sweet, affectionate and active. They love to be with their people, especially if it involves playtime. Japanese Bobtails do well with having a routine, but be sure to schedule in some cuddle time.
They make good therapy cats because they’re excellent communicators. You may not know exactly what they’re saying with their chirps, meows and musical voices, but you’ll still find it soothing.
Japanese Bobtail Summary
If you guessed that LaPerm cats get their name from their tight curls, you’re right! They’re loving and loyal, but they’re not a lap cat. Instead, they will follow you around or perch on your shoulder.
They make great personal therapy cats because they’re smart and have a sense of humor. They’re clowns at heart and will make you laugh, which is one of the best stress-relievers. When petted, a LaPerm has a wonderful purr of contentment that will help soothe your anxiety and aid in relaxation.
It’s hard to resist the draw of a Maine Coon cat with their extra-large size, their shaggy coat and their extroverted personality. They’re affectionate, laid-back and sweet-tempered. Some say that Maine Coon cats are a cure for loneliness.
Maine Coon cats make excellent therapy cats because they have a way of understanding everyone. They seem to know how to read someone’s mood and what they need from them to feel better.
Maine Coon Summary
Manx cats may not have much of a tail, but their big heart makes up for it. They’re loyal, affectionate and outgoing — that is, once they get to know you. There’s not a lot that upsets them, so they tend to be cool and collected.
Manx cats are happiest as a one-human cat, so they wouldn’t be a fit for a professional therapy cat. If you want your own personal therapy cat, they’re the one for you, as they’re devoted and will give you their undivided attention. You’re at the top of their list.
Persians don’t like to get overexcited or overstimulated — their best life is when it’s calm and peaceful. They’re sweet, gentle and tend to stay level-headed, even when everyone else is freaking out.
Persian cats make good therapy cats for individuals, as stroking their long, luxurious fur can have a soothing effect on people. While they’re not overly affectionate, they have their moments when they can be extremely lovey-dovey.
The Ragamuffin’s fur is fabulously soft and luxurious, which makes them perfect for snuggling. They’re the cuddly teddy bears of the cat world. One touch is all it takes for them to capture your attention and your heart.
Ragamuffins make great therapy cats because they’re always on avail for petting, cuddling, being held or just hanging out in your lap.
One of the most affectionate and good-natured cat breeds, Ragdolls have excellent manners with everyone they meet. When picked up, Ragdolls will go limp, which explains their name.
Ragdolls make good therapy cats because they’re easy to get along with, and people adore them on sight. If someone is challenged due to excessive mood swings, a Ragdoll cat can help even out their mood with strong doses of cuddling, snuggling and affection.
Russian Blue cats have both brains and beauty. They’re very affectionate without being clingy. They like being with their people, but they also do fine by themselves. Russian Blues aren’t the kind of cat to throw themselves at strangers, but it would be difficult to find a more trustworthy cat.
They make excellent therapy cats for their caregivers because they’re sensitive themselves and have empathy for those going through an emotional time. Their blue-grey fur has a velvety feel to it, which is also calming when you pet them.
Russian Blue Summary
These folded-ear cuties love affection, attention and will seek people out when they need some company. They demand unconditional love, and that’s what they give in return. One thing about Scottish Fold cats is that they don’t enjoy being left alone, so if you’re constantly on the go, you may want to bring them with you.
Scottish Fold cats make excellent therapy cats because, not only do they love people and kids, but they’re also adaptable to any environment. You can take them to a school or hospital, and they would stay calm though still engaged with their surroundings.
Scottish Fold Summary
Selkirk Rex cats have a style all their own. They’re famous for their great personalities and how wonderful they are to be around. You won’t find any cat more chill than a Selkirk Rex.
The Selkirk Rex would be a great therapy cat for anyone who needs contact and touch since Selkirk Rex cats will not only cuddle with anyone, they love to be picked up. They’re also intelligent and know how to adapt to any situation.
Selkirk Rex Summary
Siamese are known for being very vocal, but what sometimes gets lost about these beauties is how loving, loyal and, dare we say, doglike they are. You can train them, take them for a walk and teach them to play games and other tricks.
It’s their love of affection and attention that makes them such good therapy cats. Think of them as that special friend who’s there to help get you through the stressful times and deal with any feelings of loneliness.
Since Sphynx cats have only a soft down covering instead of long hair, they crave heat, and what better way to get warm than being close and cuddling with a human? It’s all about sharing the love for these cats.
They make fantastic therapy cats because they seem to have an extra sense about when someone is feeling sad or unhappy. Sphynx cats know what to do to help their human get over a difficult emotional time. It probably includes diverting their person’s attention away from their unhappiness and onto providing care to their Sphynx cat.
While Tonkinese cats are less vocal than Siamese, they’re just as intelligent, affectionate and friendly. Tonkinese love their humans and are all about receiving and giving attention and affection.
They make excellent therapy cats because of their kindness and devotion. Tonkinese seem to be able to read the human body language and know how to adjust their behavior to cause the greatest good and healing.