Fuzz Therapy

Leonard: I know what youre thinking, I've taken your asthma into account. There’s a feline geneticist in San Diego who has developed the cutest little hypo-allergenic calicos. I've been thinking about names, I'm kind of torn between Einstein, Newton and Sergeant Fuzzy Boots.
Sheldon: Leonard, do you really think you can satisfy your need for a relationship with a genetically altered cat?
Leonard: Maybe, if it's a cute little cuddly cat.
The Big Bang Theory, "The Fuzzy Boots Corollary"

You've just had a bad experience: losing your job, your house, The End of the World as We Know It is upon us, or you've run out of chocolate ice cream. Whatever it is you've lost, it was very dear to you, and you want nothing more than to be relieved of this bad feeling. Unfortunately, no human will help you.

No human will help you.

That leaves plenty of room open for a furry friend — usually a cat or dog, but any other furry animal with a penchant for sociability can also suit the bill — to find you in your hour of need and offer a sympathetic body for you to channel your sorrow into. It works like this: you stroke the animal's fur, it responds with pleasure, and you feel better. You feel better because you have made your pet happy, and this success, however small, renews your own sense of self-worth and will to pull yourself back up from defeat.

The Aloner may want a pet specifically to make him or her happier because other humans just don't understand them. The Team Pet may also be the only person able to pull The Hero out of his/her funk if the task exceeds the capabilities of anyone else. Anyone who attempts to interrupt Fuzz Therapy engages in a simply egregious act of kicking the dog.


Examples:

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     Film  

  • My Dog Skip is all about the beneficial effects of the eponymous dog on Willie's life.

     Literature  

  • She may be feathered, but Harry Potter’s owl Hedwig does function as his only friend during his annual weeks of summer torture with the Dursleys. It saddens him greatly when the Death Eaters kill her during his permanent farewell to Privet Drive.
  • Tomcat Blue Eyes Diaries: Blue Eyes and his owner often cuddle. Blue Eyes likes to be petted or brushed, and enjoys purring into his human ears. In one chapter, Cat Up a Tree incident led to Blue Eyes' human getting injured very badly and being taken to hospital. Blue Eyes was left alone, crying sadly the whole time. At the end of the chapter, the human is brought back home and Blue Eyes cuddles with him in his bed. Therapeutic for both of them!

     Live-Action TV  

  • From The Big Bang Theory:
    • In early season one episode "The Fuzzy Boots Corollary", Leonard pines after Penny, his attractive newly-moved-in neighbour, and he sees her kissing another guy which gets him depressed. He tries to date someone else, but it doesn't work out. He starts listening to sad emo music and wants to get a cat. He gets a scratching post and starts thinking about names. He doesn't get the cat in the end as he invited Penny for a date (though she doesn't realize it was a romantic gesture).
    • When Sheldon breaks up with Amy for an episode, he gets about a half dozen cats, whom he plays with affectionately. He denies that he's compensating for the loss of Amy's companionship. When they get back together, he "sells" the cats (actually gives money to people to take them).
    • Related in thought: whenever Sheldon feels sick or depressed, he asks Penny to come over and sing a song called "Soft Kitty" to him. It was a song that him mom sang to him when he was sick as a kid.
      Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur
      Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr, purr, purr
  • In an Imagine Spot on Scrubs, a doctor cures a terminally ill patient by dumping a box of kittens on him.

     Newspaper Comics  

  • Calvin and Hobbes named this trope. After having what he describes as a "rotten day," Calvin comes upon a sleeping Hobbes, gets the inspiration to rub his belly, and sparks what seems to be a wonderful dream in the tiger. The last panel of the strip sees Calvin walking away, a smile on his face, declaring that "fuzz therapy" has cured his mood.
  • This comes up in Peanuts occasionally, with Snoopy being the fuzz and usually Charlie Brown or Linus as the person needing the therapy. "Happiness is a warm puppy."

     Web Original  

  • Rachel Lindt of Worm starts trying this trope with her dogs after her Character Development, loaning them out to various villains and heroes in need of comfort but who cannot or are unwilling to talk to a person about it. She also hands out puppies to orphan children.
  • This Cracked article "5 amazing ways animals can control their behaviour" brings up that, with cats, this could be a Truth in Television.

     Real Life  

  • Many hospitals (and some nursing homes) have animal therapy, where a small dog or cat (more rarely, other animals such as rabbits will be employed in this role for folks who are afraid of or allergic to cats and dogs) is brought to a ward with a handler and visits the patients' rooms, where the patients can pet and visit with it and generally feel comforted in their illness.
  • There is scientifically-backed evidence touting numerous health benefits to owning and petting a fuzzy animal.
  • Crazy Cat Lady:
    • It happens in RL that a lonely (often older, unmarried or widowed) woman comforting herself with a bunch of cats.
    • Inversely, it can be a specific manifestation various mental illnesses, such as OCD, addiction, dementia, etc. This makes it more of Fuzz Symptom rather than Fuzz Therapy.