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PAT Cat of the Month

OSCAR - formerly an unwanted stray!

Oscar was a young man without a home. Nobody wanted him and he had spent some months cooped up in an RSPCA shelter near Gateshead, hoping that one of the infrequent visitors would take him home with them.

Sadly, it seemed they were all immune to his frantic pawing at the glass door. But such was his self-confidence, he was not going to give up – he would get someone to notice him if he died trying! So every time there was a visitor he would press himself flat against the window and paw and scratch at the glass as if his life depended upon it, as it pretty nearly did! Then one day two ladies came in and noticed him immediately.

Though it seemed they were looking at every other cat in there, they did, finally, open his door and allow him to clamber up on their arms to show them what a really nice and affectionate fellow he was. And it worked! Suddenly he was equipped with collar and in a basket and on his way to a new home. It was August 25th 2000, and he was barely 18 months old.

The kennels had given him the name Eskimeux on account of his pure white coat but his new owner found it a bit of a mouthful so it was quickly changed to Oscar, which, in fact, he seemed to prefer. There was another cat in the household, an old lady named Prudence, but they seemed to get on quite well. Oscar was soon out and about – and just as soon shed his collar! – and made himself known to all the neighbours who were as enchanted with him as was his new mistress. It was quickly established that a bunch of keys being jingled in the night air was a call to come home! He would also prove to be the ambassador for the close. All visitors, be they friends or workmen or even just the postman, got an official welcome from him.

Then whilst at the vet’s earlier this year, Jo spotted a leaflet about Pets As Therapy. She’d heard about it before and even seen some stuff about it on TV but was surprised to see that it could be cats as well, and not just dogs! She mused on her extrovert, self-confident Oscar and decided to offer him as a PAT cat.

He sailed through his assessment, amusing both assessors by being far more interested in the dog obedience classes going on outside the office than the two strangers within! Very quickly he was on his way to his debut as the latest PAT cat in the North East!

The home they went to was for elderly residents and had two lounges at each end of a long corridor. After signing in, Oscar was taken out of his basket and into the first lounge, where he planted himself in the centre of the room with a “Well, I’m here!” kind of attitude! With the minimum of encouragement, he went from person to person and was very compliant when picked up and placed on laps. One lady called Vera shed some tears she was so delighted to be able to cuddle a cat again and he stayed with her for quite a while.

Having visited with all the people in that lounge, the staff indicated the way to the next lounge. Oscar took off, leading the way and the entourage that had gathered, the manager, two staff, the PAT supervisor, along because it was a first visit, and Jo, all trotting along behind him. He strode along, almost straining on the lead, and straight into the second lounge where he did his stuff all over again. Then he was taken into a few rooms to meet other residents but by now he was getting tired. So Jo took him home where he immediately settled on the settee and slept for several hours! (Mind he does that every afternoon anyway!)

All in all he made about twelve ‘house’ calls that afternoon and seemed to strut around the house after as if saying to Tom Tom “I’ve been out doing good!!” Even the neighbours noticed he was a bit more full of himself than usual! And Jo was really proud of him too!

Jo Fox

If you have an hour or so a week to spare to visit an establishment in your own area and you think your cat would make a good PAT cat, please give Pets As Therapy a call on 0870 977 0003 or visit the website www.petsastherapy.org