We all know our kitties are angels. But one heavenly therapy pet volunteers his time to live up to that title.
My friend, Debra White, who volunteers for both AzCats and Maricopa County Animal Care animal shelter in Phoenix, Arizona, gave me the scoop. The therapy cat's name is Kenny, and he's a seven-year-old brownish, gray and white who volunteers to spread love around like it was strawberry jam.
Kenny, who was adopted from the Arizona Animal Welfare League, is top cat in an animal therapy organization known as Gabriel's Angels.
Started in 2000 by Pam Gaber and her dog, Gabriel, members take their dogs (and in this case, one very special cat) to visit safe houses, homeless shelters, crisis nurseries, after-school programs and group homes, where the occupants can pet, cuddle and brush the animals as if they were their own. In turn, the animals provide a gentle oasis of love for women and children who are in crisis or homeless.
When it comes to making people forget troubles, Diane McGuire, Kenny's mom, says her pretty boy is heads and paws above the rest. "Kenny has a knack for calming people," she says. "When he's around, people exhale. They talk to him and they relax."
My friend Diane says teens in trouble living at one crisis center all vie for time with Kenny. "I've never seen a cat like him," she says, "and I've seen a lot of cats. He rolls on his back and lets everyone love him." She says even a staff member who normally isn't a cat person admits to falling under his spell. But then again, angels--particularly those on four legs, who purr and have long whiskers--seem to have a way with people.