I went the hospital where I usually visit children yesterday. The team that was also there was Josie, the other therapy cat, and her human. We worked the pediatrics ward together, and then Josie’s human suggested my human and I go to the Rainbow Room by ourselves while he and Josie did another floor. He figured that since the Rainbow Room — the waiting room for outpatient kids — was usually pretty quiet, we could handle it on our own.
Well, before we even walked through the gate to the building, one of the employees said, “We have a clinic today, so it’s a full house!” And it was true — I’ve never seen so many kids and parents in the waiting room. It was at least twice as crowded as the most crowded I’ve ever seen it before! So my human shoved our tote off to one side, put me on the floor, sat next to me, and loads of kids came up to visit. It felt like miles of children!
Some of the kids are developmentally disabled, and they are all really young, mostly under 5, so it was pretty wild. Children that young, even if they don’t have anything going on medically, are still learning how to handle animals. I don’t know how other cats would deal with this type of situation. I gather it would not be fun for them. But I just sit there and let the kids do what they want with me. I know my human will keep them from being too rough, like the couple of kids who tried to grab my ear, or the one who grasped my tail. My human just gently removed their hands. I could tell even she was pretty surprised I didn’t put my ears back or flick them away. But I’m very passive around children, and that’s just the way it is.
There were a couple of children my human watched very carefully while they were interacting with me. One of them was an odd little boy who was afraid at first, then would not leave me alone. He kept getting in the way of other children enjoying me, and my human was very relieved when his name got called to for his appointment. The other child was a toddler who was wearing something that looked like a helmet, only it was made of some sort of soft material. His parents brought him over to touch me, and he was very graspy, so my human had to make sure he didn’t actually pull my fur or hurt me. But we both knew it was still important for the boy to have contact with me — and I was probably the only cat who could cope with it.
Not all the kids were rough, though! There were the little girls who were delighted to pet me, and the boy who didn’t pet me much, but who kept lying down in front of me and staring intently into my face. He was really fascinated by me. We spent a much longer time in the Rainbow Room than normal.
I have to say, though, my favorite visits were the one-on-one hospital bed visits with the kids in the pediatrics ward. They were all very sweet kids, and a little older than the Rainbow Room children. I really, really liked one boy, and we sat together on the bed, and I purred lots for him. You know, some people you really have a connection with? That was like me and this boy. My human hated to pull me away, since she could tell how much we were both enjoying the visit.
Making the rounds of this many children can be exhausting! But it was a very good visit.
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