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Therapy Cat Teaches Acceptance and Kindness

Christy Santoro
Pet Partners Handler

Tommy came to Christy Santoro from the Animal Network in Las Vegas when he was just four weeks old. She originally agreed to foster him, but after spending just a day with Tommy, Christy knew it would be a permanent arrangement. Christy had experience raising cats with disabilities, which made her the perfect owner for Tommy. He came to her with a severe eye infection and eventually needed to have both of his eyes removed. But Christy saw something special in Tommy despite his health challenges and that wasn’t limited by his lack of sight.

“From the day we brought him home, he was just so mellow,” said Christy. “Even after losing his eyes, he loved getting out of the house, meeting new people and greeting our house guests at the front door. His ears perked up as soon he heard his leash come out. How many cats like being walked on a leash? I knew he would make a wonderful therapy cat.”

Fast forward: Tommy became a registered therapy cat with Pet Partners of Las Vegas when he was eight years old. Tommy loves visiting people of all ages, as long as they give him plenty of attention. (Check out Tommy on a visit!) Christy and Tommy have visited everywhere from their local senior care facilities and schools to workplaces, community events, and hospitals, teaching the importance of acceptance and kindness within their community. According to Christy, often when people first see Tommy, they feel sorry for him because of his disability. However, after spending just a few minutes with the therapy cat, they realize that his differences make him even more special.

Christy’s favorite memory with Tommy was the day they did their Pet Partners team evaluation together.

“I was nervous, but Tommy passed his evaluation with flying colors,” said Christy. “He went through the entire process with ease, proving once again that he would make an incredible therapy cat. He had overcome so many challenges up to that point, and it was amazing to see just how far he had come. He continues to make me proud every day.”

Cat Person, a cat-care brand, is teaming up with Pet Partners to increase awareness of the benefits of therapy cats, and to help recruit and support more registered therapy cat teams. Thanks to their generous support, a reduced registration fee of $50 is available for all new therapy cat teams who join Pet Partners this year.  Learn more about registering your cat