Flash the therapy cat brings joy to nursing home residents

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Research has shown that cats have healing powers. Not only does petting a cat lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart attack, the cat’s purr can actually heal muscles, tendons and bones. Those of us who share our lives with cats don’t need research studies to prove that a purring cat in our lap or by our side can make all the world’s problems seem a little bit less daunting.

Some cats share these healing powers with a wider audience than just their human family members. Therapy cats bring comfort and joy to nursing home residents and others who are unable to keep their own pets. They provide a much needed break in the daily routine for facility residents and staff alike.

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The most famous nursing home cat is probably Oscar, the subject of the book Making Rounds with Oscar – The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat. Oscar, who lives in a nursing home in Rhode Island, can predict when a resident is about to die, and stays with the patient for his or her final hours.

I’d like to introduce you to a therapy cat in Ohio, who, at only 4 years of age, has already accomplished quite a lot!

Flash’s human Jaetta Hall rescued Flash when he was a 4-month-old barn kitty. She started showing him in cat shows in the household pet category. He really enjoyed himself, and did well, but he also got pretty bored with the process. Flash loves people, and there wasn’t enough of a chance to interact with them at the cat shows.

Hall knew that he was special, so she started looking into getting him certified as a therapy cat. She worked with the Indianapolis chapter of a group called Love on a Leash. They provide training, evaluation and certification procedures for therapy pets and their owners.

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Flash passed his certification with flying colors, and now visits a nursing home every week. He has definitely found his calling.

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In addition to his nursing home visits, Flash and Jaetta will begin working together to raise money for local animal rescue groups. Flash would also like to support service dogs by raising money for vests for them.

18 Comments on Flash the therapy cat brings joy to nursing home residents

  1. KB McFarland
    July 30, 2013 at 11:34 am (5 years ago)

    I too have a therapy cat. I foster for tge Portage APL and have taken my foster kittens to the local nursing home for the about 10 years or so, I don’t remember how long. I specialise in infant, bottle feed kittens so the residents love to see the little ones and help feed them. I have volunteere with the PAPL since 1998 and have been fostering since 2002, having over 650 fosteres over the years. When I didn’t have any kittens I could take, I would occasionally take my older brain damaged cat “Lotus” or a good tempered cat from the PAPL. Three years ago I lost my 3 legged cat to kidney lymphoma, he was terrified of every one except for my husband and myself. At the same time I had three 2 week old kittens I was fostering. One of them looked like a blue point siamese. My husband who admits he is only animal tolerant decided we should keep this little boy since I have always wanted a blue point kitty. He also said I could train him to go to the nursing home since I have had leash trained cats in the past, my first Siamese was leash trained and used to go camping with me. We adopted him and his brother and sister went up for adoption and went to their forever homes. Little did we know that he was actually a Ragdoll mix. He has a fantastic personality, acts just like the Ragdoll breed, and was fairly easy to train. When I don’t have any kittens I take him and his sister “Lotus”. Many of the long term residents ask when I’m going to bring him in and why I don’t bring him with the kittens. He is now 3 years old, August , 2 2013 and weighs over 17 pounds, Ragdolls are one of the largest breeds of domestic cats. He still has his laid back personality and enjoys going visiting. He will do a few tricks, but prefers just sitting on a lap or bed and getting alot of attention. If you have a well behaved, up to date vaccinated animal with a good personality consider arranging visits with the local nursing home. THeir requirements aren’t as strict as the hospitals and many of the residents are depressed missing their own animals. This is especially true of cats, many family members will bring their dogs to visit but nobody brings in cats. It is fantasic seeing their faces light up and the big smile they have. Just remember to tell them that you have to share the animals and so they are willing to let go so that you can continue bringing a little bit of fuzzy joy to others.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 30, 2013 at 4:00 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you for sharing your experiences with therapy cats, KB!

      Reply
  2. Julia Williams
    August 10, 2012 at 1:55 pm (6 years ago)

    I know a few therapy cats, but it still blows my mind that any cat has the temperament for this kind of thing. I’ve just never had a cat that would be relaxed and easy going enough to do it, but I sure am thankful for those that are, because I know it’s such a valuable service.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 10, 2012 at 2:13 pm (6 years ago)

      I always thought Buckley would have made the perfect therapy cat because of her deformed hindleg, and her sunny personality. Unfortunately, she got terribly stressed being in the car for any length of time, so I never pursued it.

      Reply
  3. Esme
    August 9, 2012 at 1:20 am (6 years ago)

    Flash has a great job.

    Reply
  4. Vicki
    August 8, 2012 at 4:31 pm (6 years ago)

    What a great little guy he is, and a wonderful cause as well.

    Reply
  5. Guido the Italian Kitty
    August 8, 2012 at 2:37 pm (6 years ago)

    Catzowey Flash! You rock and I know the impurrtance of animal therapy cuz I’ma certified Animal Assisted Therapy cat too! I work with Down Syndrome & Austism folks and the pay is high: all the purrs I can rev up. It’s meowvalous what you do!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 8, 2012 at 9:10 pm (6 years ago)

      Thanks for visiting, Guido! That’s wonderful work you do!

      Reply
  6. Jillian
    August 8, 2012 at 2:10 pm (6 years ago)

    What an amazing story! I was excited to read about a therapy cat, as you mostly hear about therapy dogs. I am an Occupational Therapist and am looking to incorporate animals into my therapy session through animal assisted therapy. I would love the idea of using a cat. Thanks for an awesome article!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 8, 2012 at 4:28 pm (6 years ago)

      Jillian, I’d love to hear from you if you do end up working with a cat.

      Reply
    • Jaetta Hall
      August 9, 2012 at 2:23 am (6 years ago)

      If anybody needs some info on how to get started in certifying your cat just let me know. It is a real easy process, there are LOAL chapters all over the US. Thanks, for all the sweet things you said about Flash. He is pretty awesome! I’m his proud mommy!

      Reply
  7. Peg
    August 8, 2012 at 1:47 pm (6 years ago)

    I love hearing about therapy cats and hope that this is a trend that grows.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 8, 2012 at 4:27 pm (6 years ago)

      Me, too, Peg!

      Reply
  8. Bernadette
    August 8, 2012 at 1:26 pm (6 years ago)

    Flash sounds like he’s following his life path! I wish more people would do this with cats. I know when I took a few of my cats to visit the personal care facilities where my mother lived there were so many ladies who had had to give up their kitties and they just loved being able to have a kitty on their lap. And some, my mother included, were a little frightened of dogs because their vision was poor enough and they were just unsteady enough that a big friendly dog seemed threatening.

    I should talk–I should get on the ball with this myself!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 8, 2012 at 4:27 pm (6 years ago)

      Which of your cats would have the right kind of personality to do this, Bernadette?

      Reply
  9. Marilia
    August 8, 2012 at 12:36 pm (6 years ago)

    Sweet!

    Reply

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