Cats As Therapy Animals

Several years ago a pregnant young cat was rescued on a farm in Palm City, FL and was brought to Domino's House, a no-kill cage-free cat rescue and adoption facility. After a day of rest she presented to us a beautiful litter of grey/white, black/white kittens which we named after the novel Charlotte's web. One of her handsome kittens was named Avery.


Avery was adopted by a fine family who had a young son. Five years later we received a call from Avery's owner who stated that we must take Avery back as he was ruining the neighbor's screen door when he went outside which, apparently, was all the time. When mother and son appeared at Domino's door with Avery held tightly in the son's arms, the mother lifted Avery from her son's arms and quickly handed Avery to me. The little boy had no idea that Avery was to stay with me now and I can still hear his voice crying, "No, no - not my Avery!!!!" I often wonder if the boy ever forgave his mother for her candid act.

At Domino's House Avery is not only a very happy, healthy kitty but he has a job!! Avery is our therapy cat along with his friend and volunteer at Domino's Cat Rescue League, Sally Booth. Twice a month Avery adorns his harness and his "handsome man" collar and off they go to Palm City Nursing and Rehab Center.

The residents and staff always look eagerly for Sally and Avery to arrive and visit with all who care to pet and talk to our little therapy guy. As an ambassador of Domino's House, Avery has impacted many residents -- some in a small way and some in a manner that can change the mind and spirit. On one particular visit, Sally decided to take Avery into a room where an older woman was sitting in a wheel chair mute, as she had been for some time. When asked if she would like to hold Avery, there was no response and nursing staff had already mentioned to Sally that this lady had not responded to anyone in a long time. Sally, overlooking the resident's previous non-response, placed Avery in her lap. Immediately, the lady moved her hand across Avery's back with obvious pleasure. This scenario was repeated for some time and when Avery was lifted off her lap, the lady held up her arms as if to say she wanted to hold him once more. Two weeks passed and during another visit to the Nursing Home, the nurses greeted Sally with the news that the lady who had shown no response for some time was now talking and, in fact, waiting to receive Avery in her lap once more!

Thousands of nursing home and hospices all over the world are finding therapy dogs and cats have made millions of smiles and hope for their community. Sally said, "The hours spent at the bedside of the residents has changed my life. I realize a simple gesture has made a huge impact, allowing senior citizens a fulfilling experience in their daily lives".

Maris Sine, President of Domino's House Cat Rescue League.

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