The Cat That Made a Difference

Forging a special bond was easy with this precious pussycat.

Cat at seniors residencePhoto: June Middlebrough

An advertisement in the newspaper stating that the local SPCA was promoting a campaign called “Home for Christmas,” appealing to local residents to give their numerous older cats a chance at a forever home, prompted my husband and I to visit the shelter. As we were chatting with the worker, an orange cat perched on a cat tree eyed us closely, then reached out with a paw for my husband’s shoulder. We took this as an omen and so it was that Cici came to be a part of our lives.

I’m told that of all the animals that come to be in shelters, the saddest ones are those that have had homes and have been given up for adoption. Our Cici was one of them. But it didn’t take her long to check out her new digs and settle herself in her comfy bed in the kitchen. As the weeks went by we all adapted to our routine. Mornings we went off to work while Cici watched over the house, surveying the neighbourhood from her perch in the sunroom.

It soon became apparent that Cici was an exceedingly laid-back cat and there wasn’t much that would upset her, aside from her humans serving up a late dinner. About this time, I heard about an organization called You Are Not Alone that was looking for dogs to fulfill their mandate of pet visitation to local seniors. Although cats had never been considered as appropriate visitors, Cici was reluctantly scheduled for an interview. At the interview, she was handled a good deal by the interviewer and through it all Cici remained undisturbed, seemingly bored by the whole performance and thus she was declared fit for
the program.

A few days later, Cici and I arrived at the Nanaimo Seniors Village and prepared to meet a resident who wanted a visit from a cat, not a dog. Joan Samuels (pictured above) had recently moved to the Village after giving up her home and her two pets, a cat and a dog. Understandably, she was missing them terribly and I was hoping that our visits would help with the healing of her loss. I still remember Joan’s face when she saw Cici for the first time. It was truly love at first sight. Every Tuesday morning after that, Cici and I had the pleasure of visiting with Joan. Sometimes we played cards or just chatted while the cat made herself cozy on Joan’s bed. Other times I brought Joan to my home for lunch and extra cuddle time in the rocker with Cici. All our times together were so special.

The following year, the SPCA launched another campaign and Cici and I were asked to participate by being interviewed at the local TV station. The TV crew watched with trepidation as I opened Cici’s carrying case and she stepped out into the unfamiliar setting. She sat quietly on my knee for the interview, lapping up all the attention and conveying to the audience how pleasant it would be to own a cat like her.

My husband was home recording the interview, but I never got to see it as he absent-mindedly taped a football game over it. So much for our five-minute claim to fame! But I must admit there is a much more meaningful reward than that. Being part of the pet visitation program was truly a privilege. Playing a part in bringing two sweet souls together and watching them bond was truly a gift.

Next, read the heartwarming story of how a group of mothers and babies is bringing joy into seniors’ residences.

Originally Published in Our Canada