Therapy Cat Brings Joy to Seniors and Students Alike
Jack B. Nimble paw-picked the perfect career: sharing snuggles and purrs.
"The moment I saw the phrase ‘therapy cat,’ I knew Jack B. Nimble would be purrfect for the job!"
Jack B. Nimble is a shelter rescue who grew up to be a therapy cat. Yes, there really are therapy cats—something I discovered a couple years before I retired. The moment I saw the phrase “therapy cat,” I knew Jack B. Nimble would be purrfect for the job! I adopted Jack in 2009 from Crash’s Landing and Big Sid’s Sanctuary, a lifesaving cat animal welfare organization in Grand Rapids, Michigan where I have been a volunteer since 2006. I fell in love with Jack when he came to Crash’s Landing. He was about a year old, and one of the happiest cats I’ve ever met. Jack’s front legs weren’t developed properly when he was born, so his front legs are shorter than his back legs and sort of bowed, giving him a decidedly unique walk. Jack has no idea that he’s different though; he runs and plays like any other cat.
When I retired in January 2017, I contacted the therapy pet organization Love on a Leash and got Jack B. Nimble certified as a therapy cat. Jack was a natural, as I knew he would be—he is completely at ease being placed on a nursing home resident’s lap, where he lies quietly while they stroke his soft fur. For a little over a year we have been making regular weekly visits to two nursing homes. In November 2017 we also began volunteering as a pet therapy team with Spectrum Hospice, visiting hospice patients.
Jack travels from room to room in a pet stroller with the top open. Patients are delighted to see Jack come wheeling up, peering over the edge of his stroller. Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients are also delighted when I tell them his name is Jack B. Nimble. They recognize the name from the nursery rhyme and often start reciting it to me.
Jack’s visits bring joy to seniors and hospice patients who have had to give up pets they can no longer care for. Patients who barely respond to the people around them will respond to Jack, drawing comfort from his snuggles and purrs. Faces light up when they see him, and agitated patients become calmer while petting him. Many of the nursing home residents look forward to Jack’s visits all week. And he has given me a new purpose and mission now that I’m retired. I never would have volunteered with the Hospice program or visited the nursing homes on my own, but I cherish the opportunities I have now to share Jack with people who take so much comfort from his presence.
We also participate in end-of-semester student de-stress days at a local college. The college provides activities to give students some relief from the stress of upcoming final exams, including bringing in several therapy dogs for the students to interact with—and as of last year, one very special therapy cat for students to pet and hold.
Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Lynn won Crash’s Landing and Big Sid’s Sanctuary in Michigan a 2018 Holiday Wishes award.