How Spaz Changed His Community
I think we can all agree that our cerebellar hypoplasia cats have touched and changed our lives in so many ways — and Patty took this one step further. By introducing Spaz to her community, Patty and her CHer have helped change so many lives. Here’s their story:
One day a friend of mine who had been stricken with MS called me and asked if I would come to visit her and bring Spaz with me. I said sure, why not. I asked her why and she said I have a favor to ask. [She said,] ‘There is a little boy on my floor and he is having real problems with his disabilities. I think if he saw Spaz, it may help him accept his illness a little better, he could see that it isn’t just people who have these problems. Besides he loves animals and would enjoy cuddling with your cat.’
I said sure and was on my way, Spaz and I walked up to the visiting area and I heard a child screaming at his mother, “Look mama, look, that kitty walks just like me.” Before I knew it Spaz was being petted and loved by several children using walkers and in wheel chairs, some with braces on their legs.
Spaz was eating it up, rolling on his back, giving the children kisses and head butts. Talking to them in cat language as if he understood what they were saying to him, acknowledging their presence, accepting their love. I can’t tell you how much fun I had talking to the children telling them why Spaz was the way he was and how many of the children responded to my special kitty. The little boy that we first went to see started to come out of his shell, he was becoming more social with the other children with every visit from my special cat.
The next week I received calls from the nurses asking me if I would please bring my cat back to visit the children. They told me that the kids did nothing but talk about Spaz, they told anyone that would listen about this little kitty that was just like them. Parents were seeking more information about my cat and wanted to see the cat that made such an impression on their children’s lives. Spaz brought smiles to their faces and such enthusiasm to their voices when they told Spaz’s story.
We started visiting the hospital weekly. Spaz responded to the children with such love, it was amazing to watch the effect that this cat had on the children. The wonderful effect that Spaz had on everyone that he came in contact with. We visited the hospital for just about three years when the newly appointed hospital director became evolved in Spaz’s visits and announced that it was wonderful that I shared my cat with the kids, but he was worried that a child may become injured and the hospital would be liable.
He said that he would look into it and find out what needed to be done to allow Spaz to come back. He contacted me a few days later and said the only way that Spaz could come back is if we both got certified — Spaz would be described as a service animal and I would be his handler. He then threw in to the conversation; you will have to have him declawed!
Working in the medical field as an animal technician, I knew what this meant. Not only was the surgery extremely cruel, but Spaz needed his nails to get on the couch or pull himself on the bed. He didn’t jump like a normal cat, he did what I called the High Ho Silver to get on the furniture. He would rear up and throw his front legs out in front of him to latch on the fabric and pull himself up. I had placed carpet runners in the places that he would frequent for his afternoon naps or just to snuggle with me. This is something that I could not comply with; I couldn’t do that to him for any reason, even if it meant we could no longer visit the kids.
Spaz missed our visits. He would stand at the door waiting to go for what I am sure he thought was time to visit the kids. I couldn’t bear to leave him at home with no contact with what he loved so much people, so I made him the mascot for my rescue organization.
Spaz would go with me at our weekend adoption events and visit with everyone that walked by. Spaz was my meeter and greeter, the response was wonderful, I was able to tell Spaz’s story to educate the public on the effects of some viral infections, making them aware of prevention and protection for their pets was extremely important and that not everything in life is perfect and perfect was not everything. I would tell them that every living creature has a right to live, and what I would have missed if I hadn’t let Spaz live.
Parents would come to do their shopping at the pet stores and their kids would visit with Spaz. The children would sit on the floor and Spaz would roll in their laps, rubbing his little face on theirs. The kids would beg their parents to visit Spaz. What joy he has brought to so many. How many hearts he has touched.
After visiting the children’s hospital, word got out of my special cat and the invitations started rolling in.
I would take Spaz to schools on Career Day representing ROP animal care courses, and how the animal field as a career was rewarding employment. Spaz and I would give lectures and classes helping Girl Scouts earn badges. I talked and he visited, he visited everyone that attended.
We went to continuation schools to show the kids there is a better way than gangs and violence. We offered community service to high school kids helping at the adoption events to acquire and complete school requirements. We offered community service to kids who were starting their lives in the wrong direction, getting in trouble with the law. Most of the kids would return even when they didn’t have to, only to work at the adoption events loving the cats and kittens and play with Spaz. Everyone that would come in contact with my special kitty would fall in love with him. How could they not!
Even though I no longer do rescue or adoption events I still get emails, cards and letters asking about Spaz, inquiring how is doing and telling me to give him a hug for them!”