April 30 is National Therapy Animal Day, a day to honor animals who visit patients in hospitals, nursing homes, residential facilities, and anywhere else where people need some fur (or feather) therapy. We volunteer our services to calm and destress people going through tough times. Hearts need healing, and spirits need lifting, along with physical bodies. This is a job therapy animals (and their human helpers) are happy to do.
To celebrate National Therapy Animal Day, I want to share some of my most memorable therapy cat moments over the years.
- The cute grandmotherly lady who sang to me in Spanish while I sat on her bed. When the nurse came in with her meds, she said, “Oh! You made me forget pain!”
- The man who was bedridden and very sick. Too sick to even carry on a conversation with my human. When she placed me on the bed with him, I did my usual cuddling up and making happy paws — and he began sobbing. And sobbing. And the more he sobbed, the more insistently I made happy paws. That was the day my human knew I understood my job.
- The lady my human and I saw during a few visits over several months. The first couple of times, she said she didn’t want to see me because she didn’t really like cats. But she asked my human a lot of questions about me, and therapy animals in general. Eventually, she let me in her hospital room. Then she said I could stay if I stayed on the floor. Then she said, “She doesn’t look comfortable there. She can be on the bed, as long as she stays by my feet.” Well, you know where that went.
- One time I was at the big hospital, visiting along with two dog teams. We went up to Pediatrics, and there was one little girl, and we asked if she wanted to see the dogs or a kitty. “I want to see the kitty!” she said emphatically.
- I took part in a presentation about service and therapy animals at the big hospital once. Afterwards the staff who attended all wanted to take selfies with me. It was like a celebrity meet and greet!
- We used to visit a part of the big hospital called the Rainbow room, an outpatient waiting room for children with developmental disabilities. One older boy was so scared of me that he literally climbed up a chair to be as far from me as possible. But by the end of my time there, he was brave enough to come up and pet me and the dog who was also visiting. He was cheered by his family and the staff. When I saw him a few months later, he even came up to pet me without coaxing, and had his photo taken with me.
- The first time we visited the children’s hospital, one of the kids I visited with in the lobby was a boy who only had hooks for hands. He petted me with his hooks, and I thought that was perfectly fine.
- There was a little girl in the rehab area of the children’s hospital. She was there for therapy on her hand, something she hated. But she wanted to pet me and feel my fur. So I actually got to do not just regular pet therapy, but a little bit of physical therapy too.
- A woman in one of the assisted living facilities was not responsive to me for months, even though I saw her every time I came. Then one day she reached out and started happily petting me with heavy hands. She visits with me every time I come now. That same visit there was a man who used to have his hands in surgical mittens to keep from harming himself (or maybe others). This day, his mittens were off, and he walked over to me and just looked at me, fascinated and delighted. And I looked back and gave him a slow blink. I haven’t seen him wearing the mittens since that day.
I didn’t realize how many memorable stories I had! I hope you enjoyed them. Which was your favorite? Let me know in the comments.
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