Animals are the best kind of therapy if you ask us. Did you know a cat’s purring is actually healing and therapeutic? Not only that, but their goofy antics give us love and laughter. This is the story about a cat named Roger who became a much-needed therapy cat to his community.
Roger the Therapy Cat
In 2016, Tracy Howell thought it would be just another normal day for her. But it wasn’t just any normal day, since that was when she and her cat Roger decided to join Pet Partners in Phoenix, Arizona.
The gray kitty with little white booties is a very loving kitty and wants nothing more than to bring the world joy. He does just that by visiting Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
At the hospital, he does tricks for children and gets very excited when children’s eyes light up when they see him coming. With the well-received reception they get at the hospital, over the years Tracy and Roger expanded their reach by becoming involved with Hospice of the Valley, Arizona State University, and Scottsdale Public Library.
“Roger’s favorite visits are with his hospice patients and the kids at the hospital. He loves seeing their excitement at seeing at him; and for me, seeing how the real cat lovers react is amazing,” said Tracy.
When Roger visits patients with dementia at Hospice of the Valley, he is known to brighten the room, and dementia patients get a wide smile on their faces when they see him.
The loved ones of the patients have even said they haven’t seen their loved one smile like that in a very long time.
Below, Roger appears in a video from ABC15 Arizona, helping students at at Arizona State relax during finals.
Then the Pandemic Came
In 2020 when the COVID pandemic reached the United States, Tracy didn’t know what this would mean for their visits.
“On the way there I explained to him about COVID, and that I wasn’t sure when we would be back, so he should make sure to give it his all in case it was his last time there,” Tracy said.
Roger understood what Tracy was telling him and certainly gave it his all! Within the two-hour time limit the hospital had for visitation, Roger visited 13 patients and brought them joy and happiness. Tracy explained that Roger could have gone the entire night giving children comfort but they stopped per the hospital rules. When they were in the middle of their visit, that’s when they heard about the national shutdown, and visits stopped at the hospital the next day.
Roger Wins Hero Award for Service to Community
So how could Roger continue giving these children the comfort they needed? Like many of us, he resumed work over Zoom calls! Later, the cat would win an award for service to the community in Arizona.
“Visiting on Zoom is tougher, but we are still able to make a connection, and people know that we still care. Roger did his tricks and the patient was smiling and happy, which the nurse told me afterwards is a big deal for this patient. It’s harder to read people on Zoom but the groups we volunteer with make sure to give us feedback that makes it worthwhile.”
Roger continued his efforts throughout the pandemic and earned an award in 2021 for Service to the Community at the 18th HERO Awards in Phoenix by the Arizona Pet Project.
Another Cat Named Sal Appears and Makes a Purrfect Therapy Cat Too!
Since then, Roger continues to bring joy to those around him, along with his new brother Sal.
Sal came to the family in late November when Tracy heard meowing in the living room. At first, she thought it was Roger, but it was an entirely different cat! Sal was out on her patio crying for help. When Tracy brought him in, he was an immediate keeper with his calm demeanor and his ability to easily learn therapy training.
What are the odds of finding two perfect therapy cats by chance? Below, we see how Tracy Howell introduced Sal to the life of a therapy cat via TikTok.
Together, Sal and Roger continue their therapy work at the children’s hospital, library, hospice, and university. They have so much love to give, that they’ve expanded their reach to social media! You can see more on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.
Thank you to you both, and you too Sal, for bringing so much joy into the hearts of many.