DUNKAN came to me on 9 October 2004 when he was only two-days-old. He was brought into the veterinary surgery where I worked at the time by a lady who found him with his two dead litter mates in a rubbish bin bag.
It was obvious they had all been dumped as there was no sign of any mother cat. He was very cold and weak with hardly any life in him at all. He still had his umbilical cord attached to his tummy. When I took him from the lady he raised his head slightly but he made no sound. The vet checked him over and did not give him much hope of pulling round, but I wanted to try and give him a fighting chance.
It was a long hard struggle for this tiny little man but I persevered with him and prayed a lot. At first I warmed him up as at this age small kittens cannot control their body heat and then I tried to get him to take some special kitten milk in a tiny dropper. He found this very hard to manage as he hardly had the strength to swallow and at that stage I thought he was going to give up.
There followed a good three weeks of bottle feeding him every two hours, day and night, as well as toileting him as young kittens can’t go for themselves as their mother normally licks them. He was always kept warm and given plenty of cuddles and I was sure by now he was going to make it.
He started putting on weight every day and by four weeks old he was able to eat mashed kitten food with his milk, on his own. I played games with him to help him bond, hunting and pouncing on his toys, throwing cat biscuits for him to run and chase after, which he would then eat as a reward. This helped him in the skills that kittens need to become cats in the big world.
I took him everywhere with me so he could meet different people of all ages and once he had all his vaccinations I introduced him to my friends’ dogs and cats. He also came to work with me every day until he was six months old and was handled by all the staff and eager clients, who just adored him and queued up for a cuddle.
I had heard that dogs through Pets As Therapy could visit care homes, hospitals, day centres, schools etc. but didn’t know that cats could visit. I went to the Pets As Therapy website and there was all the information about cats helping to bring happiness to people.
I applied for all the forms and information and Dunkan and I went through the necessary tests required and to our joy we qualified. We now have our establishments where we visit weekly and have been doing so for the past two years. It is just a great feeling to see happy smiles on our clients’ faces every time I walk in with Dunkan, they just love him to bits and he I am sure loves them all. He loves sitting on knees, being stroked, lounging on beds, and he knows he can bring a little ray of sunshine to all those he meets even if it is only a short time he is there.
Only last week he helped a lady go through some painful physiotherapy treatment on her legs.
He lay beside her on the bed and snuggled into her so she could stroke him and talk to him, which she said helped with the discomfort. The nurses were amazed how Dunkan stayed so calm and gentle and he has been asked to help out again for the next treatments.
In Dunkan’s spare time he enters cat shows and wins some first prizes. He now has quite a collection of rosettes and beautiful trophies to show for it. He cuddles into the Judges, which I am sure makes their hearts melt.
Dunkan melted my heart the day I first saw him, so vulnerable and helpless, and he continues to do so every day as he is such a little character. Dunkan gives so much pleasure not just to me but all the people he meets. This is why he is such a wonderful PAT cat. Joining Pets As Therapy has brought out a lot of Dunkan I may never have experienced; he owes me nothing, and I want him to be with me forever.
Jackie Humble, Dunkan’s owner
If you have a cat you think would make a good PAT cat please contact Pets As Therapy on 0870 977 0003 or visit the website www.petsastherapy.org