by Paula Weller
In December 2004, I went to the Animal Care Society to make a donation for Christmas. While there one of the ladies asked me to visit the cat room. As I entered the room a brown tabby (Frito) approached and wanted me to pick him up. I put him down, but he kept wanting me to pick him up. The lady said that it looked as though I needed to adopt this cat. I had never had a cat. I went home and brought Cricket my therapy dog back to make certain that they would get along and of course, they did. I kept his name.
He was found with his kitten sister by construction workers eating their lunch. They took them to animal care and named them Frito and Cheeto. Frito was nine months old when I adopted him. He is now 14. Frito has been visiting for four years. He began the year I retired Cricket, my therapy dog. I have been visiting for 12 years.
I feel as though I could write a book about my experiences with both Cricket and Frito. One memorable visit was at Baptist Hospital. Frito and I visited Coronary Care one day and visited a man whose wife was visiting him. He particularly liked Frito. A week later, I received a call from the volunteer office stating that a family had requested Frito in the Palliative Care Unit. As it turned out it was this gentleman. Frito visited and sat in this man’s lap for 2 hours. The gentleman would not let anyone take Frito. His wife said that ever since Frito had visited her husband in CCU, all he talked about was Frito. After our visit we planned to visit him in a couple of days. The man passed away before our next visit.
Frito visited a lady at a nursing home who is bed bound and must remain flat in the bed. She loves Frito. As soon as I lay him in her bed, he crawls up to her and she covers him up with her blankets. She pets him, but you cannot see Frito. She always tells me that I can leave him with her and I can go about my way.
Another story about Frito at Norton’s Hospital was when I was asked to take Frito into a lady’s room that they were having difficulty with. The patient was elderly and hallucinating. I spoke to her and put Frito into bed with her. He crawled right up by her. She became completely calm. While Frito lay beside her, two nurses were able to get IV’s into her and take blood samples.
In his retirement, Frito plans to spend more time on the screened-in porch watching the many animals that visit. We have 9 bird feeders, deer, rabbits and skunks that regularly visit. In fact, as I am writing this, he is outside on the screened porch enjoying himself. Of course he loves following me around. He intends to sleep about 18 hours per day.
One lady that worked at the nursing home stated that she loved Frito because Frito liked everyone. It does not matter what physical or mental problems you might have, he will cuddle with everyone. He has taught me patience and kindness. Frito has opened many doors for me to visit and meet new people. I absolutely love this cat. He can sense needs. He knows when someone needs cuddling. He is referred to as the “hugging cat” at Norton Hospital by the staff.
Although I am sad not to have a visiting animal, I intend to stay a member of WAGS as a trained assistant. I love animals and people and WAGS is the perfect organization for me. I believe in the values of WAGS.