Scarlett the Therapy Cat Helps Kids Improve their Reading Skills

Together, Bella and Scarlett volunteer to provide children a reassuring ear to practice reading.

Bella + Scarlett

After learning about pet therapy teams, high school senior Bella became interested in being part of a pet therapy team herself.

"My favorite part is seeing people’s faces when I walk in with my huge almost 20-pound cat. No one can refuse smiling when she walks in."

Although admittedly not all her pets were capable of the task, she knew her adopted cat Bella, from Nashville Cat Rescue, would make a great therapy cat because of her calming presence.

Bella started doing more research to see what it would take. “I looked it up online, and realized that Scarlett was the perfect candidate,” said Bella. “I thought it’d be cool for her to be able to help somebody out.”

At 8 years old, Scarlett was already a “people kitty” who enjoyed hanging out with people. But Bella looked at all the requirements and made sure that Scarlett could cross them all out: being welcoming with everyone she interacted with, being well behaved with strangers, could be petted and hugged without getting anxious or over-excited, was confident in new environments and followed cues even with distractions. In time, Bella and Scarlett completed their training and they were certified as a therapy team through Pet Partners.

“My favorite part is seeing people’s faces when I walk in with my huge almost 20-pound cat,” said Bella. “No one can refuse smiling when she walks in. She makes so many people happy.”

Together, they visit with kids to help them improve their reading skills. By reading out loud to Scarlett, and being comforted by her gentle, soothing purrs, kids become comfortable and more confident in their reading abilities.

Recently, Bella and Scarlett met an older man while volunteering at a health center. He was suffering Alzheimer’s and had forgotten what a cat was. “I introduced him to Scarlett, an adorable animal that had escaped his memory, and it was amazing to see his face light up.” This impactful moment along with all the others they have while meeting people is why Bella and Scarlett are dedicated to helping people and making a difference.

Every October, the Petco Foundation supports the incredible work of service, therapy, and other working animals who save and improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Donate today to support Helping Heroes like Scarlett.

Interested in volunteering as a therapy pet team?

Learn more about becoming a certified therapy team with Pet Partners or begin training with your dog at Petco. Learn more about dog training and Canine Good Citizen Certification.