Therapy Cat

Years ago, I saw a news piece on a nursing home with cats in residence, who brought comfort and companionship just by living their lives and roaming the halls. Nurses reported an uncanny feline ability to partner someone as they passed. It was not at all unusual for a cat to remain with a patient for hours and, in some cases, days.

The first thing I thought when I visited my facility in October was, “Oh! This place could use some cats!” You see, I visit a clinic that is, sadly, rather a dumping ground for those who have no one. Often, they are wards of the state. In fact, oddly enough, Nevada sends some of its patients to Utah to die. I never understood that while I worked in hospice, but it’s a common treatment of their indigent and terminal. Heartbreaking, no?

As I said, “This place could use some cats!”

I was visiting with [Joan] today and I’ll be damned if a cat didn’t walk in! “Well, hello!”

He was chatty and curious and just beautiful, with brown, cream, and copper markings interrupted by the odd white dab on his boots and muzzle, and a freckle on his lip. He hopped right on the bed, greeted me affectionately, then settled in. If I spoke to him, he answered. He allowed no more than three-four strokes at a time, preferring his independence and gently making it known. He just hangs out in my patient’s room every now and then. I’m thrilled. 

I’m so glad she was moved down the hall. I’m sure that catfellow visits because it’s quiet and undisturbed. Her roommate blared the TV all day. Now I play classical and/or instrumental music and sit with her in peace.

Best of all? My gal’s eyes were open today! “[Joan]…?” I said, incredulous.

“Yes, dear,” she answered in that thick New England accent, as though we hadn’t skipped a beat. There you are!

Oh, she had me laughing so hard today! She was really sharp, and sharp-tongued. She’s delightful company. We talked about animals and angels. I’d been missing her.

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