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