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Fuzz Therapy

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Leonard: I know what you're 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.

In situations with Beast Men or other "furry" characters, one of them could also serve this purpose, with the added level of sapience potentially allowing them to serve as a Morality Pet or Morality Chain as well.

The Aloner may want a pet specifically to make them 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 their 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.


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  • Implied in an ad for Pedigree pet food, where a little girl in a hospital expecting "more treatment" is instead met with a big, fluffy St. Bernard.

    Anime and Manga 
  • In The Summer You Were There, after Shizuku became ostracized by the rest of her class for bullying Ruri, she isolated herself from others out of guilt, including her own family. Her mother and sister became worried about her and the former looked into animal therapy, then got a puppy named Shion from a relative who couldn't keep him due to having too many infants. Shion didn't fully cure Shizuku's issues, but it helped her start communicating more.

    Fan Works 
  • Absolute Trust: It turns out that Azula absolutely loves dragons, to the point where her relationship with Iroh soured after Ozai told her that she could never ride a dragon because Iroh killed the last one. In Chapter 35, when she wakes up after Ozai tried to have her killed, all of her rage and suicidal depression fall silent when she sees Ved and Druk on Zuko and Alec's shoulders, and she immediately turns docile and warm when they let her pet them. When she receives Shaw's last egg, she decides to dedicate the rest of her life to returning dragons to the world.
  • Catch Your Breath: Kakashi uses his summoned dogs as therapy animals, deploying them for his sake and for the sanity of his teammates during tough times.
  • Extra Life: Invoked. To help Chiaki overcome her depression, Izuru gets her a rabbit, specifically mentioning that pets are helpful for therapy because of this trope. Taking care of Yumigami, as she names her, petting her when anxious, and cuddling her when having flashbacks all prove very beneficial for Chiaki.
  • Live a Hero (MHA): Izuku does this for himself. After coming across a box of six abandoned cats, he couldn't bear to leave them alone, causing him to take them all home despite his mother's worries about the costs of feeding and caring for them. She ultimately relents after seeing how happy and relaxed they make him compared to his normal mental state, in which he struggles to avoid stabbing Bakugou after the latter bumped into him on the street. They also calm him down after his overuse of his Quirk renders him temporarily deaf and blind, as their warm, fuzzy fur allowed him to recognize them instantly. It's heavily implied that he's attached to cats because his sister would call him "Kitten" to absolve him of his guilt for being forced to use her for target practice when throwing knives.
  • In Platinum Pirate, the friendliness of Lucas' Pokémon has a calming effect akin to petting a dog when they're resting. Even Marines as grizzled and cynical as Zephyr can't help but show them affection. Vaporeon also drapes himself over the necks of others on hot days to cool them off.
  • There's No Rule That Says A Wolf Can't Be A Jedi: When Anakin is stressed out by the challenges of being a powerful Jedi, he increasingly turns to Swift both for good advice and for the chance to stroke a huge dog's fur.
  • Yesterday Upon The Stair: Actively invoked by Izuku in with his rescue cat Mika. Whenever Izuku notices one of his friends is having a rough time, he'll drop Mika on their lap and leave them alone with her for a while. Kirishima calls it a rite of passage in a side story due to how many people he's done it for. It also doesn't hurt that Mika is one of those animals that has a Quirk of her own- mainly, the inability to produce dander, which is what makes people allergic to cats in the first place.

  • My Dog Skip is all about the beneficial effects of the eponymous dog on Willie's life.
  • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish has an aspiring therapy dog in the form of Perrito, whose first meeting with Puss has him insist that he rub his belly. Later on, however, this trope is shown in full when Puss is suffering from a panic attack thanks to another encounter with the Wolf. Perrito is able to calm him down by laying his head on his belly as Puss pets him, generally being there for him when he really needs him.
  • In an earlier version of Turning Red, Mei would have been used as a sapient version of this for hire by her mother as a way to raise funds for her family temple.

  • Animorphs: In her first book, Rachel morphs into her friend Melissa's cat to spy on her house (she's the daughter of the school's assistant principal and local leader of the Sharing, the Yeerk recruitment front). When Rachel sees Melissa crying over her parents ignoring her (although Yeerks are able to perfectly judge what their host would say/do in any situation, they only bother to do so when necessary), she goes up to comfort her.
  • Inverted in Discworld, where a form of torture involves locking a prisoner in a spikeless iron maiden with several kittens. If the torturer drops by and doesn't hear contented purring, he gives the box a few good whacks.
  • Light novel Feline Therapy starts with someone trying this to deal with their anxiety. However, they end up becoming a cat.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • A bittersweet version occurs in the Penric story Knot of Shadows. The feel of the soft fur of a bunny saves the ghost of little boy from being Barred from the Afterlife.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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 his 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
  • The Muppets (2015): In the series finale, Rowlf reveals he's become a licensed therapy dog and invites Kermit the Frog to pat his head when Kermit is feeling anxious.
  • In an Imagine Spot on Scrubs relating to the physiological symptoms of severe depression, a doctor cures a crashing patient by dumping a box of kittens on him.
  • Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye: In "The Leak", a leak of classified information leads to Myles being shot during a raid (luckily, in his bulletproof vest). When he starts having a panic attack after it catches up to him, Sue's hearing-ear dog, Levi, puts his head in Myles' lap to help him calm down.

    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. Hobbes' expression makes it clear that he appreciates such moments too.
  • 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."

    Video Games 
  • The Houndsmaster in Darkest Dungeon has an Irish Wolfhound who he can have relieve stress by nuzzling up their companions or licking wounds.
  • The Cat class in Miitopia learns a skill named Playful Antics, where they rub against another Mii to restore some of their MP.
    • With the Updated Re-release on the Switch, even the Horse can get in on the cuddly act, as reaching a high enough bond with the Horse will unlock Cheek Rub, which also restores MP. Unlike Playful Antics, it doesn’t take up a teammate’s turn, but it’s up to the Random Number God whether the Horse wants to use it or not.

    Visual Novels 
  • The sequel to Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth has a prison that gives each prisoner a pet if they don't already have one. They even let infamous blind assassin Sirhan Dogen, keep his seeing-eye dog Anubis, even though Anubis was known for helping Dogen in his "work".

    Web Comics 
  • In one Breaking Cat News strip, two of Georgia's cats provide Fuzz Therapy while she's lying on the couch feeling ill.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: After his non-immune cousin gets wounded by a Plague Zombie, Lalli withdraws from the rest of the crew to come to terms with what just happened. The Team Pet kitten, with which Lalli has a one-sided Sitcom Arch-Nemesis relationship, eventually joins his side to escape the shouting of two other members of the crew, and he ends up picking her up and hugging her in an O.O.C. Is Serious Business moment. The next thing Lalli is seen doing a very short amount of time later is slapping a bunch of papers on Reynir's lap and asking him to come up with a variant of his first working rune that does not catch fire when it activates.
  • Parodied in El Goonish Shive with the serenity spell used to break Susan out of an angst-induced (magic) awakening. The spell provides tactile illusions in the form of small animals to keep her occupied until the spell wears off.

    Web Original 
  • This Cracked article "5 amazing ways animals can control their behaviour" brings up that, with cats, this could be a Truth in Television.
    • Another article has a heartwarming example. A war vet is about to pull the trigger when his puppy licks his ear...
  • Spoony got himself a lively little puppy to help with his mental health issues after a messy falling out with other online reviewers he'd been working together with for years.
  • The team of Critical Role made a very chill dog named Henry a regular feature of the show's Q&A after-show Talks Machina, specifically so he can be cuddled by the cast. Liam, who is quite open about his struggles with depression, especially makes use of this. (Henry, while being a Team Pet, officially belongs to Brian W. Foster, the host of Talks Machina, who has also made comments suggesting that he still deals with the psychological scars of having in the past been a member of some cult-like religious group.)
    • Liam's Campaign 2 character Caleb Widogast has a Familiar named Frumpkin who usually takes the form of a cat. Caleb first encountered Frumpkin after a particularly traumatising incident in his past and uses the cat as an emotional support animal. He gets very agitated whenever Frumpkin is unavailable to him and casts the spell to summon him back at the earliest opportunity. He occasionally lends Frumpkin to other members of the party if they're upset or in need of comfort.

    Real Life 
  • There is both substantial research and evidence of the benefits of pets for autistic children. Autistic children with pets are documented as being much more social and able to open up when compared to those without.
  • 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.
    • Some colleges and universities also bring in therapy dogs at exam time to help ease students' stress. This can be particularly enjoyable for students living in dormitories, who generally aren't allowed to keep pets.
  • There is scientifically-backed evidence touting numerous health benefits to owning and petting a fuzzy animal.
  • Cats have also been used by prisons to help in the rehabilitation of criminals.
  • 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 of various mental illnesses, such as OCD, addiction, dementia, etc. This makes it more of Fuzz Symptom rather than Fuzz Therapy.
  • Studies have suggested that the frequency of a cat's purr accelerates healing. While obviously evolved for the cat's sake, it does extend. A cat purring on your chest is more than just comfort.


Video Example(s):


Horse - Cheek Rub

The horse nuzzles up on a Mii with low MP, refreshing them with its cuteness.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / FuzzTherapy

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