SPH helps spread some kitty love to hospital patients

SPH staff Samsiah Hassan (in checked top) and Noor Faezah Abdul Hamid with Madam Siti Aminah Siregar at the therapy session conducted by Cat-Assisted Therapy Singapore at Ang Mo Kio - Thye Hua Kwan Hospital. It was the group's first collaboration wit
SPH staff Samsiah Hassan (in checked top) and Noor Faezah Abdul Hamid with Madam Siti Aminah Siregar at the therapy session conducted by Cat-Assisted Therapy Singapore at Ang Mo Kio - Thye Hua Kwan Hospital. It was the group's first collaboration with a company on this programme.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Madam Siti Aminah Siregar used to have 24 cats at home in Johor Baru, and playing with therapy cats at the Ang Mo Kio - Thye Hua Kwan Hospital reminds her of them.

"We get to see different cats each time and they are extraordinary ones," said the 70-year-old.

"Cats are very understanding. They know when you're in a bad mood or feeling down."

She was one of about 40 patients at the hospital yesterday who took part in the therapy session, conducted by Cat-Assisted Therapy Singapore.

They were joined by 15 staff volunteers from Singapore Press Holdings (SPH).

This is the first time that the group, which runs monthly cat therapy programmes at the hospital, is collaborating with a company to conduct its programme.

While it started out with only two cats in 2013, the group now has about 30 therapy cats, which belong to the group's volunteers. Each therapy session - during which the patients interact with the felines - involves four to eight cats and six volunteers.

"I think it's a new and unique activity," said Ms Chin Soo Fang, head of corporate communications at SPH.

"This allows people to see the gentler side of cats and helps them to destress."

Ms Samsiah Hassan, a pre-press technician at SPH, said: "I think that it's good interaction for the patients and cats.

"Instead of lying in bed, they get to move around and interact with the animals."

Mr Mohamad Sharil Abdul Rahim, the founder of Cat-Assisted Therapy Singapore, said the cats have a positive effect on patients.

Playing with the felines also improves the patients' upper body strength.

He said: "It's a fun way to conduct rehabilitation."

Seow Bei Yi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2015, with the headline 'SPH helps spread some kitty love to hospital patients'. Print Edition | Subscribe