You will remember I told you the story about Dexter the Therapy Cat. There’s a extensive training process that therapy cats need to go through in order to be certified. And I know that as friendly and fun as I am, I would never pass the test. I am in awe of my fellow felines like Dexter, who will allow a stranger to pick them up and never bite anyone. I play bite my human and I love him!
But just because we are not certified as a therapy cat does not mean we cannot help humans heal. The frequency of our purrs, for example, is good for healing bones. And for many living in the Veteran’s Medical Health Center at Fort Miley, a feline helps them heal in other ways.
Miley is a former feral cat who spent three years roaming the territory of a housing project. In some ways, you can say he saw the feline equivalent of the combat the veterans living in the health center saw. Now, instead of roaming outside, his territory is the Community Living Center.
Miley greets patients and their visitors from a purple pillow under a cushioned armchair by the elevator. Sometimes, he is on the chair itself. Or, if a human dares to take Miley’s chair, he will hop into their lap and demand a toll of petting. He returns the favor by showing love to the human.
Recently, one human was sitting in that chair, giving Miley attention, while another human waited for his turn. The human who was playing with Miley said, “He is a character. He calms me down” and gives me a reason to live. This human had lost all family and friends and had turned to alcohol before arriving at the center.
The idea of having Miley at the medical center was to make it feel more like a home. “One of the things that makes things homelike is having a pet.” That was why they worked with the San Francisco SPCA to find the right cat. Because Miley was a feral cat, he had the tip of his ear lopped off, which put him in sync with many of the veterans who had lost limbs in service.
And while Miley may not be a therapy cat, he sure helps humans. Recently, Miley kept going in and out of the room of a veteran who was suffering from cancer. He knew something was going on, and sadly, this human died. When the human’s wife was leaving, she sat down to compose herself. Miley hopped up into her lap, hoping to comfort her. “He was giving me his type of compassion,” this human said.
We felines love it when humans take care of us. But we take care of our humans, too.