We all know about therapy dogs, but a therapy cat?
Now that is unique!
How many therapy cats do you know?
Well, I am going to tell you about 3 Big Meow therapy cats. They are owned and loved by my friend, Ellen Vogel.
A little bit about Ellen...
She is a cat exclusive groomer. Just off the grooming area, Ellen offers cats only boarding in an intimate, cozy setting, all within her home.
Licensed by the state of NC, she has an excellent reputation and is the person in the know for all things cat.
She operates under the name Trilling Cat Inn & Spa.
Ellen has registered 2 therapy cats and a third in the making.
What does it take to make a registered therapy cat?
-You start with a confident, outgoing, smart cat.
-You add a dedicated human willing to teach a cat everything he/she needs to know for a successful career in therapy.
-Finally, add an unbroken bond between human and cat.
...And, just maybe you will have a therapy cat.
GP Big Meow Tanzanite Sky. AKA: Cadi
Cadi was a CFA Grand Premier and the first of the Big Meows to become a licensed therapy cat.
Going through Pet Partners, the registering body for therapy animals, Cadi tested in 2013, a time when testing was designed specifically for therapy dogs. Cadi was breaking new ground for the future of therapy cats!
At this time, there was no test specific to cats. How would they test her?
As it happened, she was tested as any therapy dog was tested. The requirements would be the same.
Cadi, tail held high, and full of confidence, went through the testing...
Walk around several dogs of all sizes with no hesitation, and no looking, hissing or growling. Allow herself to be held awkwardly, to mimic being held by a child or someone with a handicap. Fearlessly tolerate unexpected loud noises, and, of course, all manner of scooters, wheelchairs, and thumping walkers.
The list went on and on.
Cadi passed with flying colors! And she paved the way for the future of therapy cats.
Cadi's therapy career was a long one and she enjoyed every minute of it. Over the years, she went to assisted living homes, the VA hospital, dog walks, rehab centers, childrens' camps and high schools. She also visited the homeless shelter. But her all time favorite was visiting the students at UNC.
When she was 14 years old, in 2020, the pandemic was in full swing. Cadi worked virtually through 2021.
A few short months before her 16th birthday, in 2022, Cadi passed away.
Oh, how she is missed!
Not just by Ellen, but by every person that ever had the pleasure of her visits.
And, her legacy lives on...
Big Meow Vivo Fugue
The second of the Big Meows to become a certified therapy cat was Vivo.
Owned by Ellen, Vivo had not only a great teacher in Ellen, but also a great mentor in Cadi.
Vivo has visited many places in her career as a therapy cat, but one of the most noteworthy was just this year of 2023.
On April 24, Ellen and Vivo went to the Durham County Board of Commissioners meeting, representing therapy animals as well as Pet Partners. They asked the board to proclaim April 30th, 2023, as National Therapy Pet Day.
The commissioners were impressed with Vivo's manner and beauty. Ellen gave a little talk on therapy animals, and many of the people in the room went on to tell stories of therapy animals they had known. Like the queen she is, Vivo sat regally, listening with interest, as each one spoke.
At the end of the meeting, April 30, 2023 was proclaimed by Durham Co as National Therapy Pet Day.
Vivo continues to serve her community. She is also in charge of Turbo, the up and coming therapy cat.
What does the future hold?
Big Meow Speed Racer AKA: Turbo
At just a year old, Turbo is still in training. A stunning boy, with loads of personality, he is the star where ever he goes.
He is working on his CFA title of Grand Premier. Halfway there after just one show, he is a blast to show, a favorite among the visitors in the show hall, and the judges love him and his antics.
At his first show as a Premier [this means a champion in neutered class], with a twinkle in his eye, he was quick to give the judge a kiss before she looked him over.
Did it help?
Yes! She loved him and gave him two awards: Best Long Hair Premier and 7th Best Cat.
In his training, he will need to be unfazed by motorized carts, wheelchairs, and the like. Ellen has started taking him to the judges rings on a rollator! She opens his benching cage, he jumps on the seat, and off they go! Spectators love it, many following him back after the judging ring to talk with Ellen and see Turbo up close and personal.
Turbo is well on his way to a long and illustrious career in therapy work.
We hope you will come back and see how Turbo is progressing!