I’m not sure if therapy cats have certain skills that other cats don’t, or if we are just calm enough at hospitals to tap into skills all cats have. Like today, when I went to the children’s hospital near us. The only place where patients are lying down usually is in pre-op, and they don’t do surgery on Friday. So the places I visited were the lobby, the exam rooms, and a waiting room. Nobody tells us therapy cats that a hospital is for only kids, or what the stickers mean that they are wearing. But even though I visited everybody, I usually gravitated to the person who needed purr therapy most — the young patient waiting to see a doctor.
This was our first time without a staff member leading us around, so my human was a little unsure of herself. But once she found out the flags that mean an exam room was occupied, we visited as many as would have us. Only one family didn’t want to see us (they wanted a dog, although we were the only therapy team today). Another room, the doctor shut the door just as we walked past, so we figured we were not wanted in there. One preschool-aged girl we did visit was getting two artificial legs positioned. Although she didn’t want to pet me, the rest of the family did. In another room, there was a teenaged boy who really enjoyed seeing me.
Up in a second floor waiting room, I gave a high five to a young girl and posed with her while her grandmother took a photo. The lobby was very busy. I sat next to a couple of young patients and visited. A couple of kids wanted to pick me up and played with my face and ears. The nurse and their mother reminded them to be gentle, and my human watched over them carefully. But I was okay with most of it. The girl was too small to pick me up by herself, so my human helped her. I usually don’t like being picked up, but I stayed in the girl’s arms long enough to surprise my human.
You would think that because I’m not visiting patients in bed that this would be an easier hospital for me. But actually it is taking some getting used to. As you know, cats like routines, and we are still learning one here. When I’m going from room to room with bedridden patients, I know what to do. But when I’m faced with a lobby full of families, I’m not 100% sure of how I should do things. My human is trying to figure out a way to make it not seem so random. But she did get a hint that I am getting more comfortable… I sat beside one patient that I picked out myself, and made happy paws.