APRIL FOOL'S DAY FEATURE: Kitten U: UAlberta's Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine announces new pet therapy program

MSc Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech-Language Pathology programs welcome first feline student on April 1

Amanda McCarthy - 01 April 2017

The Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine is now accepting cats interested in its MSc Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech-Language Pathology programs, adding a new meaning to pet therapy.

"There is a growing need for rehabilitation professionals nationwide. We're already the only free-standing faculty of rehabilitation medicine in North America, so we thought, why not take it to the next level and train the future generation of pet therapists," says Dr. B. Haynul, interim dean, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, at a news conference announcing the program. "You know, some cats wait a lifetime (or nine) for this, so we're expecting a high demand for entry."

The first student accepted into the program, Peanut McCarthy-Anderson, a tortoiseshell cat, is being funded by the Canada 150 Alumni Award in Rehabilitation, a student award aimed at advancing the art and science of rehabilitation in our great nation.

Peanut, who has an extensive background in correct napping procedures and vocal stimulation, will start classes on April 1, 2017, and is eager to get going.

"MEOW," Peanut says, hardly being able to contain her excitement for what's to come. She also adds that she is especially looking forward to learning how to perform wheelchair assessments and purrfecting her stretching techniques.

The Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine's MSc Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Speech-Language Pathology programs are the largest training programs in English in Canada. Currently, 684 students are enrolled in the OT, PT and SLP programs and 80 enrolled in both MSc and PhD programs for Rehabilitation Science, none of which are currently cats. The Faculty expects these numbers to rise given the high demand of feline hopefuls.

"Meow…," Peanut says, adding that applying for enrolment is a big step toward building a career for herself. She hopes one day to provide exceptional clinical care and research alongside her 7,380 fellow rehabilitation alumni, serving citizens in Alberta and beyond.

"We're very happy to have Peanut as our first student," says Haynul with a Cheshire grin. "We've already received hundreds of applications. Cats have such curious minds, after all."

For more information about applying to Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine programs, visit rehabilitation.ualberta.ca.