Eight years ago, Studley the cat was discovered ditched by the side of a road in Olympia, Washington. After he was rescued and adopted by a couple who volunteered at the local shelter, he bloomed into a beautiful, lion-esque white-haired feline with a talent for working as a therapy cat.Now Studley has been honored as the ASPCA cat of the year, completing a remarkable journey.
“Studley was just a number when he came into the shelter,” recalls Keith Phillips, who is now one-half of the kitty’s human parent team with his wife Pam. “He was very thin and thought to have not eaten for at least two weeks. He wobbled up to Pam when she came up to his cage. He could barely walk, but he came up to her. She was so surprised she held him and attempted to remove some of the many mats in his fur. She couldn’t get them all and brought me back the next day to help do more. I too was struck by this little cat who was so miserable but appreciated any effort or love given him.”
Once Studley was safely settled into his new home, Keith and Pam began to notice his patient personality. A stint as a therapy cat as part of the Providence Animal-Assisted Activities and Therapy program soon followed.
“When Studley is in his visiting bed, he is calm, unruffled, engaging with people and very tolerant of those who are a little clumsy in their petting,” explains Keith. “He can do this because we are with him and he trusts us. But we never trained him — just recognized his ability.”
As time has gone by, Studley has become a regular therapy guest at the psychiatric unit at Keith and Pam’s local hospital. “He sits in his bed, on a patient’s lap or the chair next to them and they pet him and talk about their pets,” says Keith when asked about Studley’s on-job duties. “Sometimes patients talk to him. He likes it all and lets them know that. Animals are not judgmental and allow people to more freely share their thoughts and feelings.”
“We have been told by staff many times after our visit was over that the patients spending the most time with him had not previously opened up in their stay on the unit,” Keith continues. “At times staff have asked us to spend time with a particular patient because they have seen him work and know and appreciate what he can do. It seems like such a small thing to do, but it has a huge impact on people and Studley actually comes out of visits charged up with energy.”
Sounds like a win-win kitty situation to us. To keep up to date with Studely’s continuing adventures as a therapy cat, visit his Facebook page.
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About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world’s foremost expert on rappers’ cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it’s not quite what you think it is.