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Purr-fect therapy set to help estate residents

He is already a popular figure in Oxgangs, a suburb of south-west Edinburgh, and now Hamish the cat is hoping to give something back by training to be a therapet.

Hamish, who belongs to Fiona Tait, a customer of Dunedin Canmore housing association, is putting his paws to the grindstone to pass the tests needed to be one of the accredited animals who visit people in homes and nursing homes.

Research shows that therapets can help by lowering blood pressure, cheering people up and providing comfort.

Fiona said:

He was different from the start.

He followed me and my kids closely, slept in with me and wanted to ride in the van with us.

He has always loved human company and has even been known to get in the shower with my daughter Amber.

He started wearing a harness because he hated his box carrier for car journeys. I tried a wee harness on him and attached him to the dog seatbelt in the front seat and off we went. Once he was used to it I tried him with a lead and he loved it.

I taught him commands like sit, stay, lay down, paw up and high fives.

Friends and family thought it was amazing and someone mentioned he might make a good therapet.

Canine Concern Scotland told Fiona that it was more usual for dogs to be therapets and very rare for “theracats” to take on the role. But once Fiona has persuaded the team of his love for humans,  they sent out an application pack.

Hamish should have passed all his assessments this year and become a therapet after his first birthday, but until then he’s still providing comfort to people. Fiona adds:

He comes with me as many places as possible to get used to different settings. His favourite place is the coffee shop because they always give him a wee cup of cream – we call it a cat-a-chino.

Once he’s qualified he’ll be allowed into any establishment – like a guide dog – I’m really proud of him, he’s a wonderful animal and always cheers me up.

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Founder Member of Campaign Collective, chair of the Public Relations & Communications Association Charity and Not-For-Profit Group. Write mainly about charity, public sector and social enterprise communications.