Time and time again, research has demonstrated the benefits that contact with animals can have on our physical and mental health.
The findings, which highlight the physical and psychological effects that pets have on us, have led to animals being deployed in a whole number of institutions, from hospitals and rehabilitation centres to schools and universities.
Whilst the benefits may sometimes seem trivial, the occasional story appears that highlights to all of us the sheer power that our animals have over us...
A blind, 2 year old rescue cat has helped in his Grandmother's recovery from lung cancer by regularly visiting her at hospital for hours at a time - and now she's had the all-clear!
Susan Smith first came across Donny when he was just 3 months old, born without eyes and with the neurological condition Cerebellar Hyperplasia, which results in poor balance and coordination when walking.
Already the owner of three blind cats, she quickly decided to rescue the cat and give him the home that he deserved.
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Donny’s grandma was diagnosed with lung cancer several months ago. After numerous tests it was determined that at 88 she was not a candidate for surgery so they were going to give her 5 radiation treatments and send her home to a hospice situation. Unbelievably the radiation was working so they gave her 12 more treatments and on Monday she’s being released cancer free. The healing power of a Blind Cat? ⬅️swipe #wobblykitty #donnythetherapycat #specialneedscats #animalshavehealingpowers #chcat #blindcat #blindandwobblycat #thedodo #cats_of_instagram #catconworldwide #catsandwomen #theellenshow
Moving in with his new family - including cats Ray, Cookie and Blossom, and the blind dog, Sabrina - where he quickly learned his way around and soon became the star of the family.
Speaking to PEOPLE about stumbling across Donny, Ms. Smith said:
"Since I already had three blind cats I know it’s not an easy task to find a home for a special needs animal and this poor guy was born with a double whammy so my husband and I went to meet him.
He was the happiest, go-lucky guy, running, bumping into things and yes, falling down. I asked my husband, ‘Do you think we should adopt him?’ and his answer was, ‘How can we not?’"
Donny quickly rose to stardom on Instagram and, clearly taken by his charm, Ms. Smith wanted to give something back so had him trained as a certified therapy cat, joining NSALA’s Outreach Program.
Used to attending hospitals and rehab centres, when Ms. Smith's 88 year old mother was diagnosed with lung cancer and moved into hospital, Donny soon got to work, being well equipped with the skills and credentials that he needed.
Whilst there is no evidence that Donny's presence had any direct correlation with Ms. Smith's remarkable recovery, we're sure that his presence was a great comfort to her during her 17 radiation treatments.
Of her mother's recovery, Ms. Smith said:
"It’s amazing how when he’s at home he’s a ball of energy, antagonising his brother and sisters, but when he’s ‘working’ he will sit on a patient’s lap for as long as they want never trying to jump down, and then being passed to the next patient’s lap.
Unlike most cats Donny is very comfortable and at ease wherever he is.
I immediately started bringing Donny there to cheer her up and it worked. He would lay on her for hours while she petted him, often both falling asleep."
Whether he played any role in his Grandmother's physical recovery or not, the emotional support that he gave her will have undoubtedly been invaluable.
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