Thursday, October 23, 2014

Purr Therapy: What Timmy & Marina Taught Me About Life, Love and Loss; Kathy McCoy PhD

  Kathy McCoy PhD - HCI -2014

As a cat lover, I was immediately drawn to the title "Purr Therapy", and curious about how cats, who tend to have a mind of their own, could be used as a therapy pet.  The book, which I guess you could say is part memoir was written by a psychotherapist who shares with readers how two of her cats were successfully used as pet therapy in her private practice.  She explains how the cats helped some of her clients to deal with anger, family/marital issues, loss and to lessen one's grief.

The two therapy cat's were Timmy, a Burmese and red-tabby mix, and after Timmy's needless death by way of tainted cat food, Marina, a flame-point Siamese became the next therapy cat. Sadly, Marina's life was cut short as well due to feline leukemia. Each cat had different personalities, but both could seem to sense when a client in distress needed them on their lap or close by. A therapy cat helped relax some patients and helped therapy progress.

The author shares some details of her sessions with clients and how the therapy cat would react to different types of clients. She also shares some of her personal life challenges and tells how her cats helped her and her husband in trying times, and also gives some lessons to be learned about loss and grieving.

For the most part I thought the book and photos were good, but there was some repetition, and (3) of the cats do die. One thing that really bothered me and it happened right at the beginning of the book, making me almost close it for good, was the story she told about another cat of hers - a 17 year-old cat named Freddie, who was dying from cancer and kidney failure.  According to the author , "the cancer came back, and it spread with vengeance, destroying Freddie's nose, upper lip, and palate." Devastated by the thought of losing him they gave him saline treatments at home, and yet allowed him to roam the neighborhood even when he was sick (seemed like inhumane treatment IMO)  I was really bothered by this and if it's true, it probably would have been better to leave this information out of the book.

3/5 stars


  1. The story about Freddie probably would've made me close the book. I'm not sure I could handle that as well as the other cats' deaths. I am curious about cats as therapy animals. They're so untrainable but also so comforting. I'd like to read about that part but maybe not the loss part. Thanks for sharing!


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