83: A Fitting Finale

83: A Fitting Finale

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can't Believe My Cat Did That!

A Fitting Finale

I have felt cats rubbing their faces against mine and touching my cheek with claws carefully sheathed. These things, to me, are expressions of love.

~James Herriot

Laser was a therapy cat for more than twelve years, and in that time I was fortunate enough to see him do many amazing things and spread a tremendous amount of happiness. One November evening, though, his gift of empathy surpassed every expectation I ever had. We were visiting the local children’s hospital shortly before Thanksgiving. As we were hurrying to the elevator to visit the children on the oncology unit, a woman tapped me on the shoulder and asked if Laser could visit with her daughter in the lobby before we went upstairs.

Of course I said yes. She led me to a teenager in a wheelchair. Both the girl and her mother told me how much they loved cats, and how sad they were because theirs had died only a few weeks before.

Laser was a world-class snuggler. From the tiniest child, whose lap was so small that he had to do some serious contortions in order to fit, to the largest adult, Laser had a reputation at the hospital for always finding a way to curl up and cuddle.

That’s why I thought it was so strange when Laser did not curl up on this teenager’s lap. Instead, as soon as I placed him on the girl’s lap, he climbed up and positioned himself with his chin resting on her shoulder and the length of his body pressed against her chest.

A big smile lit up the girl’s features as she blissfully closed her eyes and rubbed her face against the soft fur of Laser’s head and back.

It wasn’t until I had been watching this happy interaction for several minutes that it suddenly dawned on me that the girl was not using her hands to pet Laser, and that in fact her arms were paralyzed.

Did Laser somehow know that this girl was unable to use her hands to pet him? Is that why he so uncharacteristically cuddled on her shoulder rather than curling up in her lap? I don’t know, but I don’t have any other explanation.

That encounter was especially poignant because it turned out to be Laser’s last therapy visit. At age fourteen, he died very suddenly and quite unexpectedly just a couple of weeks later.

While I was devastated by his loss, the thought of all the joy he brought over the years and the difference he made in so many lives makes me smile. There could be no more fitting final chapter in the life of this amazing therapy cat than that experience at the children’s hospital. I know Laser’s spirit will live on not only in that girl’s heart, but in the hearts and memories of everyone else whose life he touched.

~Nancy Kucik

More stories from our partners