The Finding of a Therapy Cat: a series about Tinkerbelle, Registered Pet Partner Therapy Cat (retired) and our journey together.
When I took the scraggly, emaciated, sickly old cat into foster from the shelter, I knew right away there was something different about her. Even with one eye swollen closed and her long fur so sparse on her haunches she looked like she’d been shaved, her inner beauty shone through. Affectionate and sweet, she loved to be held, and I found myself carrying her around the house like a baby. As she lay in my arms, safe and purring, I began to think this might be the one.
I’d often thought how sad it would be for a cat person to live out one’s years in a place with no cats! Since my parents went into assisted living and I met my first registered therapy cat, I’d been looking for a cat who could do that precious work. At first it was merely a thought: “I’d love to be able to bring a cat to the catless.” I didn’t know how to do it, only that it was something that needed to be done.
I began fostering sick cats for the Oregon Humane Society and realized it was the perfect way to find my potential therapy cat. Unfortunately none of the cats I fostered could quite fit the bill. Many were shy and a few were aggressive. Some hated car travel or getting into the carrier. There were many who didn’t take to the leash and halter, flopping onto the ground as if stunned. Others were sweet and gentle, but hated my other cats and wouldn’t have fitted into my family.
Over the next 5 years, I searched. Every time I took a cat into foster, I’d gently test them. I did more research and became familiar with Pet Partners, formerly the Delta Society which was formed in 1977 right here in Portland, Oregon. I learned just what it would take to be a happy therapy cat. I fostered over 40 cats during that time, all great kitties, but