Meet Spaghetti-Bob

1st birthday photo

Who is he?

He is a cat.

Where did the name come from?

This came from all the different people who had helped rescue him from his adventures on the street at the time everyone called him something different: Pepe’ Le Pew, Henri’, Bob, Kitty, etc.

To honor all those who had a hand in rescuing and caring for him up to that point his legal name became Pepe’ Henri’ Spaghetti-Bob Fluffy-Pants Le Pew VIII.

Bob on his leash

What is a therapy cat?

Therapy Animals are not legally defined by federal law, but some states have laws defining therapy animals. They provide people with contact to animals, but are not limited to working with people who have disabilities. They are usually the personal pets of their handlers, and work with their handlers to provide services to others. Federal laws have no provisions for people to be accompanied by therapy animals in places of public accommodation that have “no pets” policies. Therapy animals usually are not service animals.

(taken from : http://www.deltasociety.org/page.aspx?pid=303)

What’s the difference between a service animal and a therapy animal?

Service Animals are legally defined (Americans With Disabilities Act, 1990) and are trained to meet the disability-related needs of their handlers who have disabilities. Federal laws protect the rights of individuals with disabilities to be accompanied by their service animals in public places. Service animals are not considered ‘pets’.

(taken from : http://www.deltasociety.org/page.aspx?pid=303)

What makes a cat a candidate for being a therapy cat?

Cats chosen for therapy must meet certain criteria. They should be of a “laid-back” temperament, with no fear of strangers, and tolerant of new circumstances. It goes without saying that they should be current on shots, and either have their claws trimmed or plastic caps such as SoftPaws attached. Although previously declawed cats might be used as therapy animals, they should never be declawed for that purpose.

(taken from http://cats.about.com/od/youandyourcat/a/Therapy-Cats.htm)

Bob catching up on some sleep

Here’s Bob’s story of how he became a therapy cat:

When I got Bob it was really important to me that he be well socialized and wear a harness. I had worked on clicker training his big brother, Winston, so I worked with him on it too. When he was about 8 months old I (Dee) started working at the Animal Humane Society as a behavior counselor and became more interested in “cat training” and found out about therapy pet training. I signed up for the class at AHS mostly to do more things with Bob. I figured he was still too young and impulsive to actually pass the test. The first class we attended was a bit rough, I couldn’t keep him in his bed, he became a bit obsessed with (and hissed at) a rabbit statue he saw. We ended up removing it from the room because he would not stop staring at it! The last class we went to he was great! He stayed in his cat bed and was not stressed by things going on around him but enjoyed the people it seemed. Our instructor was like, “I really think you should test him now”. We signed up to take the Delta Society test a few weeks later and he PASSED!! His first time!! I was really proud – won’t lie.

Bob has worn a H-harness as well as the Come-With-Me-Kitty harness. I use ONLY positive reinforcement training. If he isn’t interested I try not to force him into anything but encourage him to do it. I do have to hold him on peoples’ laps at sometimes but if he really stresses, we move on. He is still pretty impulsive and likes to run around and look at stuff so I am working on getting him to spend more time laying on peoples laps.

Bob “working”

How long as Bob been wearing a harness?

I’ve had him wear one since he was a kitten. I got him when he was ~ 8 weeks old. Well, he still dislikes it but after awhile he seems to forget it is on!

Where does Bob work/volunteer?

Right now we are just visiting a nursing home.

Bob at Petco checking out the cat toy aisle

Further reading:

Clicker training for cats – http://www.catster.com/cat-behavior/clicker-training-for-cats

http://drsophiayin.com/resources/cattricks

http://www.clickertraining.com/cattraining

http://www.aspcabehavior.org/articles/53/Clicker-Training-Your-Pet.aspx

Pet Partners (formerly Delta Society) a great resource on service/therapy animals and ways to help – http://www.deltasociety.org/

Spaghetti-Bob’s facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spaghetti-Bob-registered-therapy-kitten/203735649697221

Author’s Thanks
The author would like to thank Bob & his biped secretary for the patience and help in writing this article along with the permission to use the photos.