While I think it's more than noble and heartwarming that dogs are used to sniff out cancer cells. help answer phones, open fridge doors and pop open cans of beer for their disabled companions, it's rather sad that people ignore how cats, too, deserve a place in society as Service Animals.
Here are a few examples:
When I am cold, one of my cats will invariably sit on my lap, providing me with comforting warmth which keeps my legs from cramping up. If I have to sit for too long a period of time, in this position, my legs fall asleep, shooting pins and needle-prick tingles to my toes. This is not really a benefit of any kind, more of a hindrance, but anyway, my lap was warmed up. Plus, you know and I know, they're really CUTE when they curl up on your lap and that must do something good for one's blood pressure and I bet it sends a surge of some sort of happy juice into your brain.
When I am warm, one of my cats will invariably sit on my lap, providing me with uncomfortable additional warmth that I really do not wish to enjoy. I'm wearing shorts. I can feel their paw pads sweat and stick to my thighs. If someone, God forbid, makes a loud noise and startles the lap-retired-cat, I will more often than not, end up with long parallel bloody scratches on one or both of my legs. Ok. This may not be a service, but it's nice to know that the cats like me enough to sit on my lap regardless of the temperature in the room.
When I am warm, cold, or indifferent, one of my cats will invariably sit on my lap. They'll sit on my lap if I'm trying to eat dinner. They'll sit on my lap if I have a cold, the flu, pellagra or horse bots. They'll sit on my lap if I'm trying to work. They'll sit on my lap until another cat comes up to challenge the cat that's already on my lap. This results in a fight that ends in a cat sitting on my lap. Maybe, during the lap-challenge, I'll pay the price and get those bloody parallel slashes of torn flesh over it? Maybe or maybe not my temperature will be raised to a comfortable level I might or might not enjoy and/or my legs will/won't cramp.
When I am warm, cold or indifferent, one of my cats will invariably sit on my lap, followed by another cat, who wants to sit on my lap, followed by another cat who wants to sit on the sofa, behind my head, and another cat who wants to sit on the arm rest of the sofa, to my left, followed by one last cat...well...or two...who sit on the cushion of the sofa, to my right, not to mention the two or three cats who are in their cat beds on top of the cabinet behind the sofa, all in the hopes that the cat on my lap will MOVE so they can enjoy the comforts of a prime lap location. My cats believe my lap should never be empty, not for one moment. Now THAT, my friends, is service.
Just keeping a lap occupied, may not be overwhelming evidence as to why my hypothesis is correct. It is merely one facet of how cats are great service animals. Another great talent is their ability to tell time. Maybe they can't speak, but they know what time it is!
Case in point:
My boyfriend sets his alarm to go off every day at 6:30am, Mondayâ€”Friday. He rarely ever has a chance to hear the alarm go off because he is, most often, already awake! It's not because he didn't get a good night's sleep and was tossing and turning all night, it's because of the following:
Boo-Boo, the cat, likes to come into the bedroom VERY early in the morning, say around 5AM. He's VERY quiet. We never hear him slither into the room. He likes to walk over to my side of the bed and get nice and close to me. Then he'll take a DEEP BREATH, followed by the release of a YOWL at the TOP of his tiny, little, powerful, bullhorn-like LUNGS. It's a slow, mournful YOWL. One is usually not enough for him. I think he prefers to go to three or four good, belt-'em-out-of-the-park-yowls before he feels he's done his duty.
This "why-bother-with-an-alarm-YOWL-sound-when-you-have-me?," causes us to react in a special way. A well-known phrase comes to mind; "Waking the Dead." A casual visitor might find one or both of us levitating a few inches above the bed, while still trying to sleep. Once our cochleas (the snail-shaped bones in the inner ear that transfers sounds into nerve impulses) relay the mournful sound to our de-caffeinated brains, we both WAKE UP INSTANTLY!
After a bit of groaning and turning we settle back down. The clock ticks forward. It is 5:30am or thereabouts.
Of course, a chain reaction of events I like to call; "The Parade of Pain" is set into motion. The parade not only entertains, but serves a purpose! We'll be properly roused from slumber for certain, with little or no chance of falling back to sleep no matter how hard we try. In their brilliance, the cats have timed "The Parade" in such a way it gives our heart rates a chance to slow down first (from the thundering palpitations post-Yowl) and our cochleas the opportunity to receive less impulsive signals. Once the cats sense we've relaxed slightly, the Cat Color Guard takes their positions.
Now Spencer, in his exploded, pouffy condition, as the Head Color Guard Cat will start to move. If he's not already at the foot of the bed, or sleeping near my shoulder, he'll march his way north, up my torso and commence with the first parade stop; attempting to hatch my head as though it were a giant egg and I was his soon-to-be-offspring. Yes, he sits on my face. If that does not wake me, his PURRING certainly will. Sounding like the rumbling hiss of the snare drums, Spencer's problem sinus (the right one) wheezes into action. This faulty air passage allows him to have an unusually LOUD purr-either that or it just seems loud when he's SITTING on my face. (Also, I can't breathe very well so that certainly adds to my interest in waking up.)
Spencer stops the band so they can dazzle the crowds with their stunning rendition of; "Get up and feed me now, Mommy! Feed me for I am hungry! Rise! Rise up and go downstairs and feed me! Oh, and pet me! Pet me, too! Yes, Pet me while you're at it!"
It's my boyfriend's turn. This time (little) Nicky, the 24 pound leader of the band, arrives strutting delicately (perhaps in his mind, only) up Sam's struggling-to-stay-at-rest body. Starting at Sam's feet, Nicky steps with authority and vigor up Sam's legs, making sure to press purposefully into each inch of said body part with great determination and (force) pride. Holding his tail up high in salute to the morning sun, each step, pounds its' way forward continuing on the parade route until Nicky arrives at the intersection of the main crossroads of town...
©2006 Robin A.F. Olson