How PAT cats provide therapy to their owners


27 May 2022
Therapy cats share their healing powers in many situations, but their magic starts with their owners.

Ginger and white Carrots lost his sight as a kitten but that hasn’t stopped him from spreading love and giving support to people who are seriously ill — and that includes his owner.

The fluffy tomcat first started visiting the Marie Curie hospice in Bradford in 2018 as a Pets As Therapy volunteer but at home he also supports his owner, Katie Lloyd, who has a rare type of brain tumour called anaplastic astrocytoma which requires medication and a continuous cycle of chemotherapy.

“He may not be able to see with his eyes,” said Katie, “but he sees with his heart. He has no preconceptions from being able to see. Everything comes from how he’s feeling — and everything in his life is always sunny.

“He’s very cuddly and if I’m having a bad day, he comes and comforts me. He seems to have a sixth sense and knows when I need an emotional lift, maybe because of my treatment or through tiredness, and will sit on my bed and snuggle up to me.”

Carrots was found abandoned as a tiny kitten and taken to the rescue that Katie runs — Bradford Cat Watch Rescue, which specialises in taking in and looking after severely disabled and critically ill cats. When he was found he was small, underweight, and very poorly, with one eye missing and the other badly infected — and it didn’t look like he was going to make it. At just five weeks old, he had to have major surgery to remove his infected eye and it was touch and go whether he would survive.

Carrots won the Blue Cross Medal.

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Katie, 43, said: “We called him Carrots as he needed a name but as we didn’t think he was going to make it, we didn’t want to ‘waste’ a good name — and now the poor lad has been stuck with it ever since! It was truly amazing that he survived his tough start in life and now he’s a big 5kg fluff ball!”

For years Carrots visited the hospice twice a week and soon became a furry legend with patients and staff. In 2020, Carrots won the prestigious Blue Cross Medal, which honours inspirational pets who have changed lives for the better, in recognition of his work as a therapy cat.

Unfortunately, due to Covid and being clinically vulnerable, Katie has had to stop volunteering with Carrots at the hospice, but he has been her pillar of strength during the pandemic: “When Carrots first arrived, I knew immediately that there was something special about him. He has been my companion for many years, helping me get through some of the hardest times of my life.

“Whenever I am going through my treatment, he seems to have some kind of intuition that I need additional comforting.”

Read the rest of the feature in the ‘July 2022’ issue, available to read instantly on our digital edition HERE or purchase the print edition HERE.

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