Wyoming therapy cat brings $25K grant to cat shelter

Kent County

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Move over, dogs: therapy cats are now starting to pop up in West Michigan.

Jack the therapy cat reports to work at Vista Springs Assisted Living in Wyoming on Thursdays.

“Oh, Jack and I bonded. We love each other,” said Vista Springs resident Marilyn Sholten. “From day one we bonded because he got up on my shoulder here and he fell asleep.”

Sholten hasn’t always been a “cat person” — she grew up with hound dogs and considered herself a “dog person” until she met Jack.

Vista Springs’ therapy cat was discovered the way many of us find our pets. 

“I found him at the shelter and he just had the right personality,” said Jack’s owner, Lynn Hopkins.

As Hopkins was nearing retirement, a post on Facebook made her realize it was time for Jack to go to work.

“I had never heard of therapy cats. Once I heard that, I knew Jack was perfect,” said Hopkins.

Jack went through the training through an organization called Love on a Leash, and has been offering his unconditional love at Vista Springs and hospice facilities for about a year now.

“With the dementia patients and hospice patients, it can be very calming to have him just laying there. His fur is very soft and it can be a very soothing thing,” said Hopkins.

It’s not exactly hard work, but Jack’s knack for comforting others has turned into big bucks for a local nonprofit no-kill shelter in Grand Rapids. The Petco Foundation heard Jack’s story and awarded a $25,000 grant to Crash’s Landing and Big Sid’s Sanctuary, where the Grand Rapids cat came from and his owner volunteers.

Crash’s Landing and Big Sid’s Sanctuary will use the funding for a new roof on their shelter.

But what Jack offers to those he visits is worth more than just money.

“People need something to look forward to, something to be connected with. It makes the world complete,” explained resident Donna Terpstra.

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