In the home of a senior it can be the four legged family members who bring much comfort, ease worry, and delights in the touch of an aged and arthritic hand gently petting away the day’s troubles. Cash the Cat is such a member of a number of families now, a beloved “Ragdoll” with gorgeous white and charcoal fur, crystal blue eyes and a formidable persistence equal to any determined toddler.
Cash was the companion of our first resident Mrs. T, a long time home care client, who passed earlier this year. He was so loved by the caregivers that when the family offered to let him stay it was a quick decision and thus he is now the resident cat at Matrix’s Walnut Lodge residential care home in Burnsville, MN. Cash greets visitors with a healthy curiosity and from the comfort of an upper step perch evaluates whether your wheelchair wheels or walker feet or slow and shuffling shoes are a danger. Once he determines that you are a safe and welcome visitor he is quick to befriend you, show you around and let you know that he has personally claimed each and every easy chair for his very own. However, he’ll gladly share a seat with you if you’ll assure he gets a good scratch under the chin and a thorough belly rub. He returns the favor by dusting you off with a brush from his little lion tail.
After a warm welcome, Cash seems to understand that he is a valuable and vital part of the care home family. He brings smiles, soft voices, curiosity, and lots of conversation – ‘what a beautiful cat’, ‘how old is he?’, ‘can I pet him?’ Cash also brings a gift even deeper than these; he brings a quiet companionship during illness and in preparation for death. When Mrs. T. was dying Cash would stay with her and alert the care givers to her needs before she could speak out or ring her call bell. He persists until the caregiver stops what they are doing and then leads her to Mrs. T’s room. Stepping back to the corner of the room he makes sure the caregivers address all of Mrs. T’s needs. He remains present in his companion’s bed and must be gently ushered from one side of the bed to the other as care is provided, for he will not leave his post as sentry to his companion. Only when he has determined that Mrs. T. is in good hands will he take a short break, visit the water dish, eat a quick bite and then return to his spot, snuggled alongside her until his next call to duty.
At the time of Mrs. T’s passing Cash quietly retreats to the edge of the bed or the corner of the room, giving humans their space and yet remaining close by seeming to know exactly what to do and when. When a final goodbye is said and it is time for his loved one to be ushered out the door he stands as sentry overseeing the entire process, eyes deep with a wisdom humans can sometimes miss. After the commotion subsides he crawls back onto his spot, his nest of fleece and softened fabric where he will grieve his own until ready to comfort others with a gentle purr, a loving caress and evidence of understanding. Cash the Cat – a priceless gift of love.