Service Cats aren't officially recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) anymore but that hasn't stopped cat-owners from benefiting from the often-lifesaving service these true Service Cats provide.
Symie the Service Cat
The ADA's clarification on what animals can and cannot legally be “Service Animals” (dogs and mini-horses, to be exact) came into effect in 2009. By that time, however, Symie had already completed his training and graduated as a Seizure and Diabetic Alert Service Cat. Jennifer, Symie's owner, suffers from seizures that can come on without warning though Symie can sense them and signal her when one's one the way.
Service dogs can and are trained to alert their owners to oncoming seizures but Jennifer had been bitten by a dog in the past, and the memory of that incident still lingered. Enter Symie, who bolstered his resume in 2013 by completing training to recognize both high and low blood sugar conditions in diabetics. Symie's vest bears the legend “Seizure and Diabetic Alert Cat Working”, which advises the public he's a working cat and not just a pet who can be casually patted.(service cat image via Catnip Times)
Millie the Seizure-Detecting Cat
Speaking of seizure-alerting cats, Millie here made the news recently when she bolted from the arms of owner Brea Denton's friend and disappeared for three days before being found, safe and sound. As one can imagine, Millie's loss was devastating to Denton, who relied on Millie's training to detect life-threatening seizures and alert her owner immediately.
Denton was already under stress as she had lost all of her material possessions in the 2016 Smokey Mountain wildfires. She still had Millie, though, so the unique service cat's temporary loss during a visit to Virginia Beach, VA was yet another terrible blow – perhaps the worst one yet. It's certain their reunification, made possible by the caring people of Virginia Beach, was an extremely emotional event for all involved. (service cat image via TheAnimalRescueSite)
Casper the Service Cat
What can we say about Casper, stated to be a service cat by photographer and Imgur member Danceswithmoonmoon. Casper, who wears a perfectly-fitted Home Depot cap and a blue & green harness, is presumed to provide “service” to humans browsing Home Depot for all of their household needs.
“More helpful than half of the humans at Home Depot. Easier to find too,” if we can believe one of the commenters at the Imgur page. We wish there was a cat like Casper providing service at our local Home Depot, don't you? (service cat image via Imgur)
Cosmo the Diabetes Alarm Cat
Kudos to Cosmo, a former rescue cat who's become a vital part of owner and special-ed teacher Lori Zanitsch's life – a life-saver, even. “My doctor told me that I couldn't come to the RA (Representative Assembly) unless Cosmo was with me,” explained Zanitsch. “He's able to catch when my blood sugars are going high or going low.”
Zanitsch isn't under any illusions when it comes to Cosmo being a service cat. “I know that when I go out in public, I'm an oddity,” she says. “It's interesting to be able to bring in a service animal and to let people know that this is something beneficial.” People also need to know that while Cosmo may be a cat, he's also a service animal and the usual rules apply: no touching, feeding or photo-taking allowed. (service cat image via NEA)
Patch the PTSD Relief Cat
The line between Service Cats and Therapy Cats is a thin and often blurry one but former U.S. Navy medical corpsman and Vietnam War vet John McGahey isn't one to quibble over semantics: Patch, a six-month-old white cat, was prescribed to him by his doctor and when it comes to soothing symptoms of his PTSD, Patch is the best medicine he's found.
53-year-old McGahey was first diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) in the late 1970s after undergoing treatment at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital. “I have a lot of flashbacks,” explains McGahey. “I get paranoid in public, and petting Patch helps keep me calm.” Life isn't easy for Service Cats or their owners, however. Skeptical staff at McGahey's local Veterans Administration medical clinic demanded he produce both a copy of the ADA's definition of service animals and his doctors prescription before Patch was allowed to accompany McGahey to his appointments. “Its not like I'm trying to take an alligator with me,” states McGahey. “I just want people to know service animals can be other than dogs.” (service cat image via Catster)