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 Liza Meownelli, who is a three-year-old therapy cat. Liza Meownelli, is certified through Pet Partners and spreads sunshine to hospital patients in Oregon. Rainy’s interview with Liza Meownelli will appear later this fall on Instagram.
RAINY: Why did your Mom want your to become a therapy cat?
LIZA: I became a therapy cat without even knowing what it meant to be one, I had no idea cats could do this work.
We were at out Veterinarian’s office for a Halloween party with many dogs and one other cat. I loved getting affection from all of the humans and was completely non-reactive to the other animals, even when a full grown labradoodle jumped up on me while I was lounging in my human’s arms. The vet techs and other professionals suggested that my human and I train to become a therapy animal team.
My human was impressed with how I handled myself at that Halloween party and noticed how much I enjoyed getting love from people. I was already becoming an accomplished Adventure Cat. Why not try something that could do a lot of good for the community?
RAINY: How did your mom prepare you to become a therapy cat?
LIZA: After long workdays, my human would put me in my harness and we’d go for a short trip to our local pet stores to mingle with the people and pets. This was a great way to experience new smells, sounds, and sights while being in a more controlled environment. We also did a lot of work in training me to be comfortable in my travel bag. I can now signal to my human when I feel uncomfortable and want into my safe place.
RAINY: Why do you like being a therapy cat?
LIZA: I love it! I’ll take all the snuggles and attention I can get. My favorite thing is to snuggle up to patients and take a nap beside them while they talk with my human and rub my belly.
RAINY: How did you get accepted into a hospital?
LIZA: We’re very lucky to have a hospital in our area which utilizes Animal Assisted Therapy on a daily basis and knows the worth it brings to healing. My human has worked in Family Medicine at OHSU for 3.5 years already and knew that dogs and cats are allowed to volunteer there.
She reached out to the volunteer services after she felt I was ready, and they got back to her immediately. She went in for a human interview and then I went for an interview where they assessed how I interacted with patients and families in the waiting area. After passing with flying colors, we were officially offered a volunteer position in the hospital.
RAINY: Tell me the story of how your Mom got you.
LIZA: I came from a bit of a rough start. I was in a hoarding situation back in Hawaii and then uprooted and flown to Washington State to hopefully be adopted. My human thinks this might be why I’m not fond of most other cats; Beaker was the exception.
My human went to the pet store to get food for my late kitty brother Beaker. When she got into the store, Tender Care Animal Rescue was adopting dogs and cats to new human families. I’d been waiting in that cage all day and was about to go spend another night with my foster family if I wasn’t adopted in the next half hour.
As soon as I saw her, I knew she’d be my forever human. My tiny paws jutted out of my metal cage to get her attention; it totally worked. She fell instantly for me, but didn’t think that she could take home a kitty since my soon-to-be brother Beaker was a special needs kitty with many health issues and advancing in age rapidly.
Giving it my all, I pulled out all the stops to show this human that I was meant to be her cat. My efforts paid off, soon I was in a cardboard carrier and moving into my new home. We’ve been inseparable ever since.
RAINY: Tell me more about your family members.
LIZA: It is only my human and I living in our home right now. She does bring me over to her parents house frequently where I take over the couch. I also have the human’s nieces, sisters, and brothers in law. They all love what a chill animal I am.
RAINY: What ways do you cause your Mom trouble at home?
LIZA: I have to be everywhere she is when at home. Because I like to be next to her, even when cooking, she has set up a large bowl on the counter to keep me away from the stove and other dangerous places. I do not listen to “off the counter”; the bowl was our compromise.
RAINY: What ways do you make your mom happy?
LIZA: I’m her perfect buddy that she didn’t know she needed in her life. I’ve opened a new world of medicine to her that she never dreamed would be possible with a cat. She loves to take me on adventures and discover new things with her favorite little buddy.
RAINY: How do you react to other therapy cats and/or dogs?
LIZA: I’m totally fine with therapy dogs and horses, other cats, not so much. This is probably due to my upbringing before I came home with my human.
RAINY: Why did you start a fan page?
LIZA: We wanted to share our adventures and journey becoming an Animal Assisted Therapy Team. I really want to show that anyone can overcome their past to do amazing things.
RAINY: What advice do you have for aspiring therapy cat teams?
LIZA: Learn your limitations and then push the boundaries in a safe way. You’ll never know what you can achieve if you stay stagnant in life.