Draven was born on May 10, 2012. We adopted him as a kitten from an animal rescue called Rainbow Animal Refuge (Butler/Lyndora, PA). As soon as my husband picked him up, he began to purr and we noticed his little pink tongue was hanging out! We knew this was a sign he was a special kitty and filled out the paperwork to take him home that day.
In many ways, Draven was very much like any other kitten. He enjoyed playing with toys, he liked cat treats, and he would climb just about anything to explore his new home. But we began to notice he had a quality our other 2 cats did not; he enjoyed the company and attention of humans – any humans – a lot! He wasn’t afraid or leery of strangers in our home, he tolerated car rides, and he even purred while at the vet’s office! He was a very calm, laid-back kitten.
As I began to further research therapy animals, I found my way to the Foundation for Pet-Provided Therapy’s website (http://www.loveonaleash.org) and discovered cats could also be registered as Therapy Pets. Draven already had many of the desirable qualities for a Therapy Cat (the most important of which was his natural demeanor), so I downloaded the application and list of requirements to start working with him. Since Love on a Leash (LOAL) requires cats to be at least one-year-old to start the application process, I had a couple months before Draven’s first birthday to practice and see if he’d enjoy being a Therapy Cat.
I started by making sure he was up-to-date on his vaccinations/immunizations. I had our vet print me a certificate stating he was current on all shots, parasite-free, and neutered. Those documents along with the info from the LOAL website allowed us into a few places for practice (for example, there is an Assisted Living Facility near our home that allowed Draven to visit before he was certified since we could prove he was healthy and neutered).
We’d also take him to visit friends and relatives as well as other places animals were allowed such as pet stores and parks to get him used to traveling in the car, wearing a harness, and being in strange places around new people. None of these experiences seemed to faze him, so when he turned a year old, we began the official application process. After all his paperwork was done and his practice hours were logged, we submitted everything to LOAL and he received his certification on October 18, 2013.
As a certified Therapy Cat, Draven now visits folks several times a month and participates in Fundraising and Promotional Events regularly:
- He loves seeing the same people every month at the Assisted Living Center. He gets to hang out in the Activity Room and spend time with them one-on-one in their own rooms.
- When he visits patients at the hospital, he rides in a pet stroller so he’s at a good level for bed-ridden folks to see and pet him. He even hops out of the stroller to lie in bed with people he particularly likes!
- He started a “Share the Love” campaign in which he hands out 2 goodies to folks and encourages them to keep one and share one. He wants everyone to learn the “Share the Love” just like he does when he visits people in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, assisted living centers, and everywhere else!
- The last Story Time he went to at the library, he took the kids little black “Scaredy Cats” to help them celebrate Halloween. He also dressed up as a hotdog. Er, hot-cat-dog?
- He has visited a few Girl Scout groups (of different age groups and in different cities) to teach them about what a Therapy Animal is and does, to explain what Animal Rescue Groups are and how kids can help rescue pets, and how they can “Share the Love”!
- He participated in a NO H8 photo shoot to support Marriage Equality in Mercer County.
- He helped with holiday fundraising for the LCHS by making Christmas ornaments with his photo in them as well as “helping” wrap gifts at our wrapping station for donations.
- He has hosted booths at various events (Chewton VFD’s Pet Together, Mercer’s Old-Fashioned Day in the Park, Greenville’s Heritage Days, etc.) to promote pet therapy as well as raise funds for his therapy efforts.
- He’s gone to Slippery Rock University’s Stress Less day where students could take a break from studying for finals by spending time with him and other pets.
- He has attended Valentine Party fundraisers at the Bottlebrush Art Gallery in Harmony, PA to raise funds for the Butler County Humane Society by selling Valentine goodies.
- He hosted a Cat Therapy Awareness table at a CFA cat show in both Pittsburgh, PA and Erie, PA. He wants to make sure all the cat show attendees know about Therapy Cats and that many retired show cats would make excellent Therapy Cats since they are already used to traveling and being handled by strangers.
- He also helped raise funds for the Mercer County Animal Response Team (MCART) so they could provide Pet Emergency Kits to 2 local fire departments.
- He fosters kitties for the Grove City Area Pet Rescue as well as promotes their cause and hosts fundraisers for them.
- He has 2 Advanced Therapy Degrees – one for social visits with the elderly and a second for hospital visits (for which he had to log over 75 hours of visitations for each category within in a year)!
- He has appeared at several locations to teach folks about the importance of Pet Therapy and companionship (Thiel College, Erie Animal Network, Grove City Sr. Center).
- In 2017, he was featured in an episode of Animal Planet’s “My Cat from Hell” in a segment titled “My Cat from Heaven” to showcase this therapy work.
You can check out all of Draven’s activities mentioned above on his Facebook page: Draven the Therapy Cat (https://www.facebook.com/draventhetherapycat). He has pictures of most of his adventures and you can keep up with his fundraising events as well as send him messages. I’m sure he’d love to hear from you!