Therapy Cat Program Canceled as Adverse Medical Outcomes Soar


BOSTON.  This city is home to some of the world’s most distinguished teaching hospitals, and yet a visitor to the Pumpsie Green Ambulatory Surgery Center here is surprised to see an object at his feet that is usually found in dank residential basements and not the spic-and-span halls of a healthcare facility.  “That’s Sammy’s litter box,” says Dr. Ancil Lochner, referring to the grey male tabby who’s rubbing himself against the surgeon’s legs.  “He’s a vital part of our team–or at least he was.”

“You’ve got cancer?  So what–I’ve got a tick behind my ear.”


The physician’s use of the past tense is an allusion to the fact that Sammy has been given his walking papers after a failed attempt to replicate with cats the success of “therapy dog” programs, which pair seriously-ill patients with loving, friendly canines to ease their passage from the misery of their final days to eternal rest.  “We tried switching to cats because they don’t need to go outside to defecate,” says Lochner, using the technical term that come readily to him as a result of his scientific training.  “What we found is that while dogs are affectionate, cats basically couldn’t give a shit whether you live or die.”

“He says my half hour’s up and he wants to go.”


While it will take some time before the results of the failed experiment are analyzed, doctors say preliminary data indicate that the introduction of so-called “therapy cats” to patients in declining health actually lowers their likelihood of recovery, causing some to favor their use in order to improve the health care metric known as “length of stay.”  “You put an Airedale in a room with someone who has terminal Osgood-Schlatter’s Disease, you’ll see the human perk up right away,” says Cary Norcross, Jr., CEO of Lucre Partners, a hedge fund that invests in acute care hospital chains.  “With a cat you’ll see that patient begin to fade in the face of the monumental indifference a really good feline healthcare professional can project.”

“Oh yeah.  I can tell he’s lovin’ that, grandma.”


As for Sammy, he says he bears no hard feelings towards the executive decision to cut him loose, saying he’ll have no trouble finding work in the mental health field.  “I don’t know what it is,” he says to this reporter as he hops into a cat carrier that will take him to his new client, a 29-year-old woman whose apartment is filled with spider plants and the sounds of indie rock music.  “There are a lot of masochists out there who really need help.”

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Cats Say the Darnedest Things.”

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