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Why Dogs (and SOME Cats) Make the Best Therapists

Girl with puppyWhen it comes right down to it, no matter how much you might love all animals, you’re either a dog person or a cat person.

(Of course, if you didn’t grow up with pets, it may be a mystery to you why anyone would want to share their home with animals of any kind. Isn’t it bad enough that spiders get in sometimes? Why bring in critters on purpose?)

Today I’m outing myself as a … drum roll, please … dog person.

No, I don’t hate cats. In fact I always stop and pet them when I’m out for a walk in the neighborhood.

And I once had the best cat EVER.

But you know what made him the best cat EVER? He was like a dog.

Sealy was Mike’s cat, but when we moved in together, it quickly became “Mike and Me, and Sealy Makes Three.” We were a happy family for many years.

Sealy was a calm, affectionate, cuddly ball of awesome. I could pick him up and hold him upside-down, cut his toenails any old time, rub his tummy and sleep with him tucked in the crook of my arm all night.

When we moved, he didn’t spend a single minute hiding under the furniture in our new home. He was checking everything out, confident and calm as can be. That was Sealy.

And loving? Don’t get me started.


It’s been many years since he passed and we still miss him. Probably always will.

That cat was definitely a dog in a previous life. He had all the canine qualities I describe in this week’s post:

10 Reasons Dogs Make the Best Therapists | Psychology Today

What about you? Dog person? Cat person? Or none of the above?

My mom likes pigs. Nobody knows why.

What’s your favorite therapy animal?

Photo courtesy of www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Tina Gilbertson

Tina Gilbertson is a psychotherapist, speaker and author based in Denver, Colorado. She specializes in supporting parents of estranged adult children through therapy, consulting, and ReconnectionClub.com, an online support and information hub for parents. The author of "Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them" and the "Guide for Parents of Estranged Adult Children," Tina is often featured in the media as an expert on communication and relationships. Her blog on PsychologyToday.com is called "Constructive Wallowing."

0 Responses to "Why Dogs (and SOME Cats) Make the Best Therapists"

  • Eve
    March 14, 2015 - 3:43 pm Reply

    My first preferences are tied. My first loves are both horses and cats. Between cats and dogs, of course, I am a crazy cat lady!! Yes, I am. I am learning to go out in public with cat hair on my clothes and not care about it. That’s a tough one for me. Things like that were a big deal in our family, as well as, people “like that” were esteemed as insignificant. I have finally learned, that it is the thoughts and beliefs of those who think that way who have a problem to deal with.

    And I do like like dogs, too…but the ones that WON’T QUIT BARKING, and those with bad manners, and I am anti-pit bull…I’ll exclude my long soap-box speech on that one…I am uncomfortable with. Probably the grumpy dog I played with in the back yard when I was young had something to do with that !! Generally speaking, I love all animals…but I do have a few others I especially like; ducks, tree frogs, turtles, rabbits, and parakeets. And of course, goldfish too!

    • Tina Gilbertson
      March 14, 2015 - 3:54 pm Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Eve. I’ve heard horses referred to as “big dogs,” though I can’t comment on that comparison.

      Cesar Milan, “The Dog Whisperer,” convinced me that barking is not the dog’s fault. Many owners don’t realize they need to provide leadership in this area, nor do they know how to do it. I recommend watching a few Dog Whisperer episodes to anyone who’s got a dog that barks a lot.

  • MissMaura9999
    March 15, 2015 - 2:24 pm Reply

    Growing up in a tall apartment building in New York City where no animals were allowed, it was OK to have “silent” pets such as cats or birds or hamsters. So I was introduced to cats early on. We now have five (all rescues) and I even have a cat tattoo on my left arm. I’ll let you come to your own conclusion.

    • Tina Gilbertson
      March 15, 2015 - 6:20 pm Reply

      I’m surprised that BIRDS were considered “silent” pets in your apartment building. I guess it depends on the kind of bird you have, but I would think some could make quite a racket — no offense to bird lovers.

      Our wonderful cat Sealy was originally a rescue as well. Animals, like people, can come from humble origins and still be noble in character.

  • bookishheather
    March 16, 2015 - 6:13 am Reply

    Great piece on the Psychology Today site! I love all animals but have always been more of a dog person. A few years ago when I was in a hard place, my dog Atticus was the one who was there for me when nobody else was able to be…so I got even more attached to him than I already had been.

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