Service Cats Help The Disabled

I have a very special treat for you today: Dezi of http://dezizworld.com has kindly agreed to  tell you about her experience/life as a service cat. Take it away, Dezi!

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Dezi

Hello, my name is Deztinee Izabella, but mommy just calls me Dezi. I’m a Ragdoll Cat and also a Service cat for my disabled mommy. Yes, you read that right, I’m a Service Cat, not to be confused with a Therapy cat or Companion Animal. I have been specifically trained to perform duties/tasks that help my mommy live independently. I’ll get to all that in a minute. First I would like to thank Jeanne for giving me this opportunity to meet you all and share our story with you.

It all started years ago before I was ever born. My mommy had a car accident that left her disabled. Other than a few facial scars mommy’s injuries are all internal. She has a blood clot on her brain that affects her memory, causes constant migraines and causes her to pass out. She has bilateral Sciatica, that causes her extremities to go numb a lot of the time. She lives in excruciating pain most of the time, but she’s grateful to still be alive. She’s survived Cancer and has a few other problems, but my mommy is a survivor.

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Shad

ShadNow at the time of mommy’s accident, she had a beautiful cat named Shad. They had been through a lot together and Shad loved mommy more than anything. As mommy started learning to live with her new disabilities, Shad began training herself to help mommy. Mommy realized this when she came to after passing out one night and found the police at her door. The nice policeman said that 911 had received a call and heard only meowing; first close to the phone and then further away. Back then police cruisers had tiny video cameras in their vehicles; so together mommy and the policeman recreated the scene only to see Shad run to the phone and call for help and then run back to mommy to lay down beside her and lick her face. Back then everybody had corded phones, and mommy’s phone had pre-programmed buttons and a speaker phone. The big red one was for emergencies, and that’s the one Shad pushed. As time went on, Shad taught herself more and more and helped mommy until the day she died. It was then that mommy realized if Shad could teach herself then mommy could certainly teach another kitty. And mommy did just that.

Any cat can be trained.

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Dezi

It’s many years later now, but that’s where I entered the picture. As mommy ages, she finds more things she needs help with, so training is ongoing throughout a kitty’s life. We still have a house phone with 911 preprogrammed in, so that we can call for help if necessary. I say we, because mommy now requires two Service Cats to help her. We recently lost my mentor and furry sisfur Lexi,

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Lexi

to kidney disease. And altho’ mommy and I miss her terribly, we have a new kitten and Service Cat in training in our home now; who we love and adore by the way. Her name is RaenaBelle Maycee, but we just call her Raena. She is currently learning how to give mommy a massage without poking her with her claws and alert her before she passes out. When she gets bigger she’ll learn how to use the phone to call for help, bring mommy the phone or other small items and drive mommy’s wheelchair, just to name a few.

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Raena

Training is very tedious, but the pay off is worth it. Mommy doesn’t use a clicker or treats for training. She says cats aren’t often ruled by their tummies so extra praise and love make a better reward for performing the trained task. It also means she doesn’t have to worry about us gaining weight or carry around treats all the time. I’ve been with mommy almost seven years now, and when I first came, mommy was already using a wheelchair. So learning to drive was on the agenda. Altho’ training is tedious, mommy also says it can be fun. We drive by sitting in mommy’s lap and putting our mouth around the joystick, biting down with our teeth and moving our heads forward , backwards or side to side. While training I ran into a wall or ten and a door or so. I even ran mommy and me off the sidewalk and into the snow once. But mommy never gives up and I eventually learned how to avoid the walls and doors and drive safely. Mommy’s already got the foam bumper pads for when Raena gets big enough to start learning to drive. We’ll be posting her progress on our blog DezizWorld.com.

At this time cats are not recognized by the ADA as Service Animals. Altho’ we are recognized and protected by certain State, housing and airline laws, this does leave a lot of disabled people who could benefit from the services a cat can provide, wanting. We started writing to bring attention to the fact that animal species other than dogs can be trained to perform specific tasks. And that if the disabled handler used a bit of good judgment with respect to where and how they made use of their Service animals in public perhaps the ADA would rethink their position.

We also try to help people understand the differences between Service Animals, Therapy Animals and Companion Animals. Please, if you have a Therapy or Companion Animal, Do Not pass it off as a Service Animal. That only serves to hurt those with specifically trained Service Animals. A Service Animal blends into their surroundings. That means when they’re in public, they’re calm, quiet unless alerting or performing a task, and always under the control of their disabled handler. Service Animals are Not pets, so remember to ask before trying to pet a Service Animal. You don’t want to inadvertently distract them from their duties. 

We do hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit about us unnamed-5and Service Animals in general. Feel free to contact us directly if you have any questions. And again we would like to thank Jeanne for this opportunity. We hope to see you all in the future. 

Love and Hugs and Kitty Kisses 

Dezi and Raena

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Author: foguth

Though Jeanne began her career technical writing, her love of romantic-suspense, whether it be present, future or in an unknown galaxy inspired her to write the novels she wanted to find in bookstores. Since marrying, Jeanne and her husband have lived from the arctic to the tropics, as well as from yacht to off-grid mountain home. She loves using vivid colors and flowing shapes in her oil paintings as well as creating edible landscapes. At present, she is finishing writing the Chatterre Trilogy and working on a new episode for The Sea Purrtector Files. You can always find out what she is working on and/or contact her at: www.jeannefoguth.com.

37 thoughts on “Service Cats Help The Disabled”

  1. How wonderful. Service Dogs I am familiar with, but I would never have associated cats. Respect, adoration, humility, and wonder do not begin to express my response to this post. I hope ADA recognise cats in this way. Any animal that can improve the quality of life and someone’s independence are priceless. Reblogging if I may.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You may reblog anything I post. I share your feelings about discovering just how capable cats can be — I can’t wait until Raena is old enough to begin learning to drive the wheelchair & dare to hope there will be videos.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Aren’t they amazing! I’ve been following them now for a little while and I am impressed by every post. It is so awesome what cats can do.

    Rumour has it that cat training is very easy. Within just a few days your cat has trained you to its liking 😉
    Dezi and Raena show that cats are also willing to learn and be trained if they feel loved and respected.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wonderful information about Dezi and becoming a Service Cat, and how amazing that they can do so many things to help the disabled. That little Raena is so smart, she’ll probably be driving any day now. You can see in her eyes how sweet and intelligent she is. I knew nothing about Service cats, and I wish I had trained to be one, too.
    Loulou

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was very honored that they were willing to write it. I learned a lot, too. Though I’ve followed since Lexi was alive, I never knew how Audra ever thought of training the cats as helpers.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The picture I get of a cat driving a wheelchair is fantastic. I shared on facebook. I taught my cat to give a high-five – I thought. Turns out I just taught him to use his paws to demand attention. 🙂 He’s smarter than I am

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I suspect the furry ones train me instead of vice-versa, too. This belief comes out in my fiction, Xander’s books in particular, since they are written from his ‘purrspective’.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I read once that to train a cat, you have to work with what they already do, or want to do. So, yeah. I’ve trained mine to come when I make cat-food sounds. And–to be fair–they’ve all come when I call. If and only if they’re ready to come in.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I suspect I’m the one being trained instead of vice-versa. I’m totally impressed with people, like Audra, who can actually train cats to be service animals.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Jeanne, thanks so much for posting this. I have already gone onto Dezi and Raena’s blog and followed them. Monkey comes (most of the time) when I call her to come back to our yard. I think she might have been more trainable if we started earlier. I have gotten her used to not going under my feet or between my legs because she could trip me very easily. She has really learned that one well. I can see how cats could be very good service animals and don’t see why they can’t be recognized. People sell cats short sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, on the news, I hear a lot about our ‘rigged political system’, so I have to wonder if the regulations regarding service animals is ‘rigged’ too … Or perhaps the common consensus is simply that cats are too independent to be helpful.
      One thing I know for a fact: Audra is an amazing animal trainer if she can teach any animal to dial 911 and drive a wheelchair!

      Liked by 1 person

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