Feline Communication in AAPT



Throughout history cats often had a difficult co-existence with people.  Accurately understanding what cats are communicating can provide a deeper understanding of felines and help provide a better place for them in the world. Cats are constantly communicating through their body language and understanding this communication will assist in all our interactions with cats, whether that is at home or in a professional setting.  Clinicians who involve a cat at their workplace need to be able to communicate well with their cat so the session progresses smoothly. This clear communication between clinician and cat helps to ensure safety for everyone, which is of paramount importance!  Clear communication also provides a positive framework for enjoyable interactions between the client and the cat.  Being able to recognize and accurately interpret feline communication may be the most important skill you develop as a clinician who involves a cat in your work.  It will impact decisions you make in the session, thus maximizing therapeutic progress.  In addition, helping clients understand the body communication of cats can be instrumental in developing empathy, social skills and more.  This course is designed to help you become more aware of feline body language and opportunity is provided to practice and apply the skill of recognizing what cats are communicating.  

The contents of this course are relevant for anyone who is interested in involving a cat in their work, as well as for anyone interested in understanding their cat better. This course can be taken as a stand-alone program.  Registration fee includes all course materials except the textbook and CD. 

CE Credits Available:  8

Required Text and CD (sold separately):

  • Byrnes, C and Munera, J. (2013). What Is My Cat Saying? Feline Communication 101 (CD), Spokane, WA:  Diamonds In The Ruff.  Available for purchase at Dogwise.com.
  • Chin, Lili (2023) Kitty Language – An Illustrated Guide to Understanding Your Cat.  New York: Ten Speed Press.  Available for purchase at Dogwise.com or Amazon.

Instructor:  Jacqueline George, LCSW, RPT-S, CAAPT-S-I (trainings@collaborative-consultants.com)

Learning Objectives:  Participants in this course will be able to:

  1. Interpret feline body posture and evaluate for safety in the play therapy setting.
  2. Explain the difference between relaxed and closed feline body language and why it is important in play therapy interactions.
  3. Identify ten or more feline calming signals that help the play therapist reduce tension and avoid conflict in play therapy activities.
  4. Assess the significance of piloerection in the context of play therapy experiences.
  5. List eight facial indicators of a cat’s internal state/mood that may occur during play therapy sessions.
  6. Explain the differences in feline vocalizations and what they communicate in the play therapy session.
  7. Define split attention and explain its importance to a play therapy session.
  8. Identify ways to handle rising tension between client and cat in play therapy interactions.

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