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Pet Therapy: Mutt and Misty

Someone asked me if I suggest a pet for children with special needs. That question struck me as odd. Shouldn't everyone have an animal in his or her life? I love animals. I don't think of it as pet ownership so much as having feline "kids" and friends. Our kids are important to us, and we have done everything we can for them.

Though I try to avoid too much social contact with people, I spend as much time as possible with my cats. I think about our little family often, missing old friends no longer with us and doing all I can to love the kids still with us.

Two of our cats (we have four) demand constant attention — and another demands food every two hours, but that's a different topic. Mutt and Misty are our little clingy kitties. They want to be where we are, especially if either of us might be making a lap with room for a cat.

Mutt is elderly in cat years. He is deaf, has arthritic hips, and seems to get a little confused at times. His brother, Alex, is in a bit better shape for their age. We've wondered if Mutt wants us because he feels insecure in a world he can no longer hear. He will walk around the house crying until we locate him and carry him around. Mutt would love it if we could hold him constantly.

Misty is our little baby (nearly four years old). She wants attention because she wants someone to play with her. She's tried to convince Alex and Mutt to play, but that's not going to happen. I know if J.C. were still alive, he'd love Misty. She's naturally affectionate.

Animals are therapeutic for everyone. Mutt and Misty help me cope with stress. They need attention, and I need a warm, purring cat after a long day. Actually, I need the calming influence of the kids throughout the day.

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