Seeing-eye cat

TC Palm tells the story of the family of an 87 year old woman who is struggling against the property managers to let her keep her cat, which ameloriates her depression and dementia. The woman's doctor argues that the cat has therapeutic value. The property owners disagree.

Bea’s psychiatrist, Dr. Frank Trovato of Stuart, says having a cat helps Bea’s memory. It makes it easier for her to cope with the loss of friends and neighbors — which, at age 87, is a not-uncommon occurrence. ... That’s not enough for Vista Pines.

The association’s law firm, Becker & Poliakoff of West Palm Beach, says the Garzas have failed to show that Bea’s activities have been “substantially impaired by (her) alleged disability, and how the cat will ameliorate the effects of the disability.” If the Garzas don’t get rid of the cat, the firm “will proceed with legal action” — potentially leaving them on the hook for lawyer fees and other costs.

Once while visiting someone at a hospital I shared an elevator with a dog and a nurse. The dog was obviously with the nurse. She explained that the pooch was on the staff of the hospital. "He's a therapeutic dog," she said, "we take him to see people who are in depression." I asked the natural question: "are there therapeutic cats too?" "No," she answered, "but people ask me that all the time." The value of seeing-eye dogs has long been accepted. But the idea of blood-pressure reducing cat is still a novel one. While cats have the ability to calm and comfort some people, the Florida lawyers probably figure that the suit is necessary to keep the neighborhood from going to the dogs, er, cats. But it's questionable whether they are doing the property values of the Vista Pines complex any good by publicly going up against a disabled woman and her cat. People who sympathize with cats and disabled old ladies are probably a fairly large segment of the potential real estate market. If I were to choose between an outraged activist for senior citizen's rights and an advocate for cats, I'd feel safer with the champions of seniors.

One example of the purblind loyalty of cat lovers was a blogger's reaction to a news story that the Hezbollah had detonated a bomb near a cat shelter in Beirut back in 2007 in retaliation for an Army crackdown. The blogger was moved to comment: "these Islamic militants have no redeeming value"; and it's odd how people who can remain unmoved by reports of the most horrible mass murders will be scandalized at the thought of an attack on cat shelters. In this case, however, I seriously doubt that the Islamic militants had any real intention of hurting the felines. It's not their style. It is well known that Mohammed doted on his cat, Muezza.

When call to prayers was announced Muezza was asleep on one of the sleeves of the Prophet's robes. The Prophet wanted to wear the robe to go to prayers. Rather than disturb Muezza Mohammed cut off the sleeve to leave Muezza in peace. ... Mohammed was so attached to his cat that when he gave sermons he let Muezza rest on his lap and he also drank from water previously drunk by his cat.

So cat lovers can rest easy. In Beirut, it was probably only people who the Hezbollah were trying to destroy. And as for taking care of cats in apartment complexes, here's how it's done.


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