Thursday 10 July 2014

Maine Coon Show Cat Becomes a Therapy Cat

A rusty, orange-and-white beautiful Maine Coon has gone from being a minor celebrity show cat to a therapy cat. His name is Ferguson and he now visits the patients at the Waikato Hospital’s Older Persons and Rehabilitation unit regularly.

Maine coon therapy cat New Zealand

His human companion is Jill Ballard, 67, a retired receptionist at Older Persons and Rehabilitation Services, the same unit. As Ferguson's human companion her role has changed from receptionist to therapy cat caretaker after she had a discussion with Chris Atkinson who who is the coordinator of the volunteers at the hospital.  

In a discussion with Chris the idea of employing visiting pets to bolster the mood of the patients was raised. Jill instantly thought of her cat buddy and why not because he is a superb cat and highly qualified for the post. He meets all the requirements because he is used to being in a harness, he is placid and vaccinated and I'm pleased to say that he has his claws and they are trimmed.  Finally there are no fleas on him!

Now Jill says she loves to see the difference that Ferguson makes to the patient's and she spends a lot of time visiting the Older Persons Rehabilitation wards.

The patients make it clear that they love to see Ferguson and one patient has apparently become quite attached to Ferguson. 

You can imagine what it is like to have a beautiful main Coon cat wandering down the hospital wards in a harness. It would certainly turn your head and put a smile on your face. Life in a hospital can be terribly mundane and can be quite depressing, to be honest. A Maine Coon cat is wonderful therapy just by his presence.

Of course the size of a main Coon cat helps.  They are the biggest domestic cat on average and although Ferguson is not fully grown (he has 2 more years to grow), he weighs 10 kg (22 lbs).

Every hospital should have a Maine Coon Cat. Cats particularly benefit the elderly.

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