Pet therapy: Not just for dogs!

Pet therapy: Not just for dogs!
Max works the crowd at the Humane Heroes Summer Camp at a session on therapy pets. Photo courtesy of The Anti-Cruelty Society.

I've lived with cats most of my life. And, until Max joined the family, I never would have considered signing up my cat to be a therapy pet. Seven years ago, this goofy, laid back, friendly cat moved into our house and took over the joint. And, we discovered his personality was a bit too large for just our family. Maybe pet therapy was the answer.

Max liked to wear a harness and tool around on a leash and even loved going to the vet. At the time, I volunteered at Heartland Animal Shelter where we adopted Max and his sister Ellie. Several dogs adopted from that shelter were in various pet therapy programs. However, no one wanted Max the cat. They just didn't know what they were missing.

Did you say treat? Max takes a break from reading at the Lake Bluff Library to get his photo taken.

Did you say treat? Max takes a break from reading at the Lake Bluff Library to get his photo taken. Photo courtesy of Love on a Leash.

Then, my father-in-law ended up in Manor Care for rehab after knee surgery and we smuggled Max in for a visit. He had a ball visiting with grandpa and a few other folks on the floor.

A week later, Love on a Leash stopped by the nursing home. And, as luck would have it, this pet therapy program not only included cats, they were in search of a local cat to visit a nursing home very close to our home. You could say the rest is history.

Max went into training - for a cat he basically needs to be friendly and not freak out when he's conducting his duties. He soon was certified and quickly had a busier social calendar than I did.

Along with being co-editor of this blog (by co-editor, I mean he sits on the keyboard when I'm trying to write), he visits the local nursing home, a children's reading program and has attended day camp at The Anti-Cruelty Society to teach kids about therapy pets and cat adoption.

Pet Therapy--Not Just for Dogs!

Max is one of four cats in the Northeastern Illinois Chapter of Love on a Leash. This pet therapy program has dogs of pretty much every breed, size and age. If you've been wondering if your social cat or laid back dog is cut out for this type of work, you can find out more on Monday night at a special program at the lake Bluff Library - Pet Therapy--Not Just for Dogs!

Jamie visits a friend at Victory Lakes. Visiting nursing homes is another way therapy pets volunteer.

Jamie visits a friend at Victory Lakes. Visiting nursing homes is another way therapy pets volunteer. Photo courtesy of Love on a Leash.

You'll get a chance to meet our fearless leaders Rick and Maggie Schmude, founders of the Northeastern Illinois Chapter of Love on a Leash, a national therapy pet association. They'll talk about the ins and outs of the pet therapy program that inclues qualifications, training and activities. Find out what types of pet personalities are a good fit for the program and meet some of the pets and handlers in our local chapter.

This is your chance to meet Max (and me) and some of the great dogs that are his counterparts in the pet therapy program. Monday night's session will start at 7 p.m. at the Lake Bluff Library and will be open to the general public. Learn more here and sign up in advance here.

More stories

Along with being an editor of the blog, Max has made a few appearances in some of my posts.

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    Raining Cats and Dogs

    I am a crazy cat lady and puppy mill warrior that blogs to advocate and educate about pet issues. In American animal controls, millions of pets are abandoned each year and an estimated 4 million die just because there are not enough homes. It truly seems like it’s Raining Cats and Dogs.

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