Pet Therapy

They say timing is everything. It was a gorgeous CA evening last fall when a dear stray cat walked down our driveway and into our lives and hearts. Noah knelt down and the kitty cautiously walked towards us. Noah petted him and the cat rubbed up against my leg. I didn’t touch him because I was told that transplant patients must be cautious with kitties. The cat looked healthy, but a little skinny. We had some leftover bbq chicken and walked down our driveway a little and fed him. He has a unique meow. It is a desperate, pull-on-the-heartstrings meow, as if he really needs something, and sometimes sounds like a frog. As soon as I heard it, I was smitten with this kitten.

Mister 6

I never grew up with cats, always dogs, so this was a whole new experience for me. We started to see him hanging around our townhome complex on a more regular basis. Our neighbors enjoy his company as well and he has now become our community cat. He is fed by the neighbors, loved immensely, and does not stray far from our complex. He is our mascot, watch-cat, mouse-lizard-rat-bird hunter and daily sunshine.

As I continued to grow more fond of the cat, now called Mister KaliKat, I began to worry about my health and if I should play with him. I asked my nephrologist to learn of the risks. My doctor said I am not to touch or be around cat litter boxes because I could get toxoplasmosis by breathing in the germs from the cat feces. I need to be careful not to get bit or scratched. It is a situation where one needs to weigh the risks and how far post-transplant the patient is. It wasn’t long before Noah and I took Mister to the vet. He came out with a clean bill of health, up-to-date on all of his shots and is as healthy as we can help him to be. Noah and I are very careful with Mister and wash our hands after playing with him.

Mister 3

Even though he is our community cat, I like to think I am his ‘mom.’ Like any mother, I believe he is the cutest and most special cat. Mister KaliKat has the sweetest temperament. He has never tried to bite or scratch us, even when Noah had to put him in a cardboard box carrier to go to the vet. He tolerates when I put a cat tie on him and when Noah is playful with him. Mister has been such a gem and brightened my days. When I come downstairs in the morning, I open the front door, clap my hands and he comes running. It cracks me up, as I never knew cats came when you clapped. Since I still can’t drive due to my grand mal seizure, I am home a lot. When I take walks out front of our townhome, he follows me. I sit on the front porch and read and work on my computer and he just lies at my feet or sits on the chair next to me. Mister has been a ray of sunshine and has provided such joy during this long road towards recovery. It is amazing what a source of therapy animals can provide.

cat tie  Mister 4

Mister came into our lives at such a perfect time. I say he was “sent from heaven.” Sometimes I wish he could talk, but he does listen well. I have come to love the antics, quirkiness and playfulness of cats. I love him from his nose to his toes. It is important for us to take the best care of ourselves physically and mentally. Having a little fur-baby as a companion makes me forget about my physical ailments and makes me so very happy.

How do pets bring joy to your life?


  1. Pam

    Their intuitive nature surrounds us when we feel bad or sad with a rub to our legs and a jump to the lap. Weird how petting an animal for only a few minutes soothes OUR soul like majic! And such laughter with tears of joy running done you face as crazy animal antics take place …. all good medicine.
    For over 18 years my “sweet boy”, Sonic, was a constant in my life. Always ready to greet me after a long day, console me during trying times, willing to listen about my life and warm my heart with his sweet “meows”. Miss him something terrible even after 2 years. He was as much apart of my life as I was to him.
    Valen …. so glad “Mr” is apart of your life and heart. He will never know how good he has been for you. Yes, I too think he came to you when most needed!

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Sweet Pam,
      Mister has been in our lives less than one year. I can’t imagine how hard it is to be without Sonic after 18 years. However, Noah and I believe Sonic was sent to us in dear KaliKat. Sonic’s spirit and sweet soul lives on. I’m so happy you were able to meet our little sweet boy and hopefully you’ll see him again soon. Love you!

  2. Robert Fassett

    I have had 2 cats since the 2nd year of my heart transplant. I was told the same thing about cats and since my donor was CMV positive and I had a bout with CMV in my 3rd month. Our cats sleep with me an I wear a surgical mask if I have to clean the litter box. I am now 16 years out and have not had any problems due to my Girls. My donor rescued me and I rescued my girls from a local shelter.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Robert,
      Your last sentence is beautifully said. I appreciate you sharing your personal experience with cats. You mention CMV. Is that something we can get from cats? Thank you for reading my blog post. Congratulations on 16 years! Miraculous! Wish you many, many, many more beautiful years with your gift of life.


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