Colleges introduce thera-petting

Ben Redwood 24 April 2014

Research conducted by The Cambridge Student into the services provided by Colleges and Faculties to alleviate exam-term stress has revealed large levels of puppystroking.

Welfare sessions involving petting small animals and playing with puppies are on the rise, with several Colleges already providing sessions, including Homerton, St. Edmunds and Lucy Cavendish. Likewise, the Veterinary Medicine welfare officers are arranging for a room to be filled with puppies for Vet students to stroke and play with.

Matthew Meek, the Welfare representative for the Department of Veterinary Medicine, introduced the idea in order to raise money for The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, based in Peterborough. Scientific studies have shown that positive interaction between different species has been proven to decrease in cortisol hormones, which are associated with stress, while Oxytocin levels are increased, described as the “bonding hormone”.

Discussing expansion into other animals, Matt expressed uncertainty: “While kittens may look cute, they can be quite sharp.”
Homerton JCR have arranged for four ‘Pat a Pet’ sessions with animal charity Pets As Therapy, (the anacronym is “PAT”), where several animals are brought along to be patted and played with. The College has also been active in providing several other services for students, including a “cookie fairy”, daily biscuits and squash for free in the library, massages, and regular 
yoga and zumba classes.

Jack Hooper, president of Homerton JCR, said that the trial session for the puppies was extremely popular. “In my opinion we have a good spread of services on offer in Homerton, and the good thing is that the College staff are also actively involved … the 
College Nurse has been instrumental in organising the PAT visits.”

The Seeley Library in the History Faculty meanwhile provides bubble wrap for students passing by, while Clare College has a futon available in the tutorial office for students wishing to relax. While these measures are good, Dundee University’s Students Union provide a bouncy castle for students of the University during exam term.