A Therapy Cat Named Max

Today Lincoln Pet Culture is honored to bring a special interview to its readers. My therapy cat Rainy sat down to do an online interview with Max, who began serving as a therapy cat at age four and is now thirteen. Max is certified through Love on a Leash and spreads sunshine to patients and students in Illinois. During this time as a therapy cat, Max got to meet Jackson Galaxy! Rainy’s interview with Max will appear later this fall on Instagram.

Photo provided by Max the Therapy Cat

RAINY: Why did your Mom want you to become a therapy cat?

MAX: I am super outgoing, very chill, and love attention. I enjoy going places in the car, including the vet’s office. At my first Halloween with my family, I was so interested in trick-or-treaters that my mom tried a harness and leash on me. I got to go outside and meet all the kids in their costumes. I had a lot of fun!

I also was getting into lots of trouble at home. My mom volunteered at the animal shelter where I used to live and several people there had dogs that were therapy dogs. She thought I’d be a good therapy cat because of my personality and temperament. She also hoped it would keep me out of trouble and make other people happy.

By the way, my family jokes that I’m a Maine Coon mix (with Golden Retriever).

RAINY: How did your mom prepare you to become a therapy cat?

MAX: I got used to wearing a harness and leash. We first visited a couple of family members in nursing homes after they had had surgery. I liked to explore and visit all the people. I also would purr my way through appointments at my vet.

Humane Heroes is a summer camp program that was hosted by The Anti-Cruelty Society several years ago. Max and his owner attended each year to bring awareness to therapy cats and adopting adult cats. Photo provided by Max the Therapy Cat.
Humane Heroes is a summer camp program that was hosted by The Anti-Cruelty Society several years ago. Max and his owner attended each year to bring awareness to therapy cats and adopting adult cats. Photo provided by Max the Therapy Cat.

RAINY: Why do you like being a therapy cat?

MAX: I love visiting people in the nursing home and also really love helping kids learn how to read. Everyone seems surprised to see me at first, but I make them purr (or at least that’s what it sounds like to me).

I also love the extra attention. I have been featured in several local newspaper stories and Jackson Galaxy visited me to do a My Cat from Heaven segment. He was very nice and thought I was very special. My sister was not impressed that I got on TV.

RAINY: Tell me the story of how your Mom got you.

MAX: One of mom’s kitties died at the age of 15 and mom, dad, and that kitty’s sister were all very sad. They decided to adopt another cat. They searched for about six weeks because the kitty they lost was very special. They came Heartland Animal Shelter where I was living to look at another cat and I swatted my dad-to-be on the head a few times because I wanted to go home with them. They ended up adopting me and my sister Ellie. She is a calico and was very scared at the shelter. I was adopted from Heartland Animal Shelter on Super Bowl Sunday. We picked good people.

Max with Elle, Photo provided by Max the Therapy Cat

RAINY: Tell me more about your family members.

MAX: I live with my mom, dad and sister Ellie who is also a 13-year-old Maine Coon mix. She is shy when not at home, but is the world’s bossiest calico at home. She thinks she rules the roost. There also used to be a kitty named Scarlett. She lived to be almost 20 and was in charge until the end. We miss her.

By the way, I’m a cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with stage four mast cell tumors in two places four years ago. I lost my ear and had chemotherapy. I lost my whiskers too but didn’t lose any fur. However, I started treatments in the fall and never got my bushy winter coat. My mom felt bad for me because she thought I was cold and made me wear goofy looking sweaters. I looked silly but got a lot of attention so I didn’t mind.

My mom works at a very big animal hospital and I got to go to work with her while I was having treatments. I have so many girlfriends there and I got to “help” mom with her work. I also held therapy cat “office hours,” so I could help people feel better if they were having a bad day. It was very hard work.

I also get to “help” when my mom does photo shoots and demo videos for her work. The other kitties don’t want to be as helpful as I am.

Max and Coco, Photo provided by Max the Therapy Cat
Max and Coco, Photo provided by Max the Therapy Cat

RAINY: How do you react to other therapy cats and/or dogs?

MAX: We don’t currently have any other cats in our therapy group. I love the dogs (although I ignore the little ones). My girlfriend is Coco the Rottweiller. She just retired this year because she isn’t herself these days. We loved doing the library program together.

(Note from Max’s Mom: We have a new kitty that is joining our group and I have started his evaluations. Max will soon have feline company.)

RAINY: What ways do you cause your Mom trouble at home?

MAX: I love to party at 3 am when the rest of the house is asleep. I also like to pick on my sister.

RAINY: What ways do you make your mom happy?

MAX: I love to give her hugs, head butts, and purrs. I demand special time before she leaves for work in the morning and when she comes home. The rest of the time my dad is my human, but he doesn’t feed me.

Photo provided by Max the Therapy Cat
Photo provided by Max the Therapy Cat

RAINY: As a long-time therapy cat, what advice do you have for newcomers?

MAX: Be calm and purr on. I love to cuddle with the kids when they practice reading and sit on laps or peoples beds when I visit the rehabilitation center. If you love to explore, you’ll meet even more people. Purr because it makes people smile; many of them miss their own kitties.

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