After the interruption of my P-AT (pet-assisted therapy) visits, due to my unscheduled surgery -I'm back to being my furry and friendly self. Perhaps, "friendly" is an overstatement when describing my demeanor on my P-AT visits, probably, "laid back" or "chill" would be more accurate. In contrast, most of the dogs that volunteer are outgoing to down right (and utterly undignified) enthusiastic with all the tail wagging and dripping lolling tongues. I prefer to remain "available" but restrained. While the assorted bunnies and guinea pigs are usually pretty oblivious. The rats on the other hand behave like their "partners in crime" to the dogs. As soon as they hear the latch on their cage door they scurry out of their snugly hammock slings, stand on their hind legs and twitch their long whiskers as if to say, "yippee, yippee, we're going out on a visit!".
In the beginning, mum was concerned that my calm and somewhat "royal" style might be off putting and people wouldn't find me comforting. This has not been the case, apparently my feline reputation proceeds me. I would like to stress here, that a feline rep, is not the same thing to all people. People's perceptions can run the gamut from, "I don't like cats, they are evil incarnate. (We generally just skip over those sorts) to "Oh my, it's a cat!" as in what a miracle that a cat is out, on a leash, and totally calm.
The fact that I don't mind having people touch me, grab at my ruff, pull on my tail or play with my paws, whilst not a negative response, amazes mum's co-volunteers, program directors and anyone who knows anything at all about cats. Please don't get the wrong idea, mum does protect me. She usually holds me and at the slightest detection of rough handling she quickly and nonchalantly moves away from any over zealous "grabbers". Some of the people we visit aren't always aware or even able to judge their own strength. Still, sometimes I do get a little squirmy. On these occasions mum will put me down so I can "walk". This usually means I head for the corner, or make a "beeline" underneath a chair, or aim for an open door. As I'm on a leash these responses usually illicit great delight among the residents. (Humans are so easy to entertain, not even a string is required!) Most often I find my carrier, hop in and take five.
I know mum really loves our visits, as for me it's definately one visit at a time. I am a cat after all.