67-year-old amputee finds comfort in animal therapy, 3-legged cat: ‘They find you, you don’t find them’

December 25, 2023 | by


In the quiet town of Amanda, Ohio, Juanita Mengel, a 67-year-old amputee, has found solace in the companionship of her 3-legged cat, Lola-Pearl. Each day, as Juanita carefully assembles her prosthetic leg, she does the same for Lola-Pearl, ensuring that her feline companion is ready for the day ahead. Together, they make up one of the estimated 200 therapy cat teams in the U.S. registered through Pet Partners, a nonprofit organization that connects owners and their animals with communities in need of animal-assisted interventions. While therapy dogs are commonly known and researched, therapy cats often surprise people with their unconventional presence. With Lola-Pearl by her side, Juanita has witnessed the uplifting impact that these furry companions can have on those they encounter and believes that it’s not about finding them, but rather, being found by them.

67-year-old amputee finds comfort in animal therapy, 3-legged cat: They find you, you dont find them

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Animal-assisted therapy has been proven to have numerous benefits for individuals in need, and one person who can attest to its power is 67-year-old amputee Juanita Mengel. With the support of her three-legged cat Lola-Pearl, Mengel has found comfort, joy, and a sense of purpose through their therapy work. In this article, we will explore the power of animal-assisted interventions, the role of therapy cat teams like Lola-Pearl, and the impact they have on individuals and communities.

The Power of Animal-Assisted Interventions

Animal-assisted interventions have gained recognition and popularity in recent years due to their positive effects on mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Organizations like Pet Partners have been instrumental in establishing teams of therapy animals and their owners who volunteer their time to bring comfort, support, and companionship to those in need. These interventions can take place in various settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and support groups.

Pet Partners and Therapy Cat Teams

Pet Partners, a non-profit organization, plays a crucial role in setting up therapy animal teams across the United States. They assess and register animals and their owners as volunteer teams who can provide animal-assisted interventions. While therapy dogs are perhaps the most well-known, therapy cats like Lola-Pearl are also part of this network. Currently, there are approximately 200 registered therapy cat teams in the U.S., each making a difference in their communities.

What Makes a Therapy Animal?

A therapy animal is carefully assessed based on its temperament and ability to interact positively with new people. They not only tolerate human interaction but actively enjoy and seek it out. This is an essential characteristic as it ensures that the therapy animal can form meaningful connections and provide comfort to those they interact with. Therapy animals undergo training and are evaluated on their ability to respond appropriately to different environments and situations.

Research on Therapy Cats

While therapy dogs have been extensively studied and their benefits well-documented, the research on therapy cats is still in its early stages. Taylor Chastain Griffin, the national director of animal-assisted interventions advancement at Pet Partners, emphasizes the need for more research on therapy cats’ effectiveness. The presence of a cat on a leash in therapy settings often surprises people, which can inspire unique and unexpected connections. Understanding the impact of therapy cats like Lola-Pearl can open exciting possibilities for expanding animal-assisted interventions.

67-year-old amputee finds comfort in animal therapy, 3-legged cat: They find you, you dont find them

The Impact of Lola-Pearl

Juanita Mengel and her three-legged cat Lola-Pearl have made a significant impact on the lives of many through their therapy work. Lola-Pearl’s intuitive and affectionate nature has brought joy and comfort to support groups, establishing a deep connection with people in need.

Bringing Joy to Support Groups

Support groups provide a safe space for individuals to share their experiences and find solace in connecting with others going through similar challenges. Lola-Pearl accompanies Mengel to limb loss support group meetings and instantly brings smiles to the attendees. Whether she is sitting in a stroller labeled “Therapy Cat” or cuddling on participants’ laps, Lola-Pearl’s presence creates a positive and uplifting environment. Mengel’s fellow support group members look forward to the joy and companionship Lola-Pearl brings to each gathering.

Intuitive Connection with People

Mengel describes Lola-Pearl as astonishingly intuitive when it comes to sensing people’s emotions and needs. This ability to instinctively connect with individuals is a remarkable quality that stands out in therapy cats. Lola-Pearl’s attentive behavior and keen awareness of people’s emotions allow her to provide support and comfort on a deeper level. Mengel believes that Lola-Pearl’s intuitiveness is an essential aspect of her success as a therapy cat.

Gratitude and Rewards

For Mengel, the impact of her work with Lola-Pearl extends beyond the support they provide to others. She expresses her gratitude for having the opportunity to make a positive difference in people’s lives while also receiving personal fulfillment. The joy she witnesses in others as they interact with Lola-Pearl is a constant reminder of the impact they are making together. This gratitude and sense of purpose keep Mengel motivated to continue their therapy work and advocate for the recognition of therapy cats’ potential.

In conclusion, animal-assisted interventions, such as the work done by Juanita Mengel and her therapy cat Lola-Pearl, have a profound impact on individuals and communities. The power of therapy cats to bring comfort, joy, and a sense of belonging is evident in their interactions with those in need. As research on therapy cats continues to expand, society will gain a deeper understanding of their effectiveness and the value they bring to various therapy settings. Through the remarkable bond between humans and animals, we can create a more compassionate and supportive world for everyone.

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