Supported Living

A Cat Tale

July 31, 2012

You might say Frances saved Angel. After all, she adopted Angel, a sweet-faced, black-and-white cat, from the Central Missouri Humane Society. But see them together, and you’ll realize that Angel has done something special for Frances, too.

They needed each other.

“You can sense the bond between them,” said Ann Tatayon, Frances’ Support Coordinator at Boone County Family Resources. “Frances’ quality of life has improved so much since she adopted Angel. You can sense her contentment.”

Frances, 57, has lived in an apartment at one of BCFR’s supported living sites since 1994. Because of her diagnosis of autism, Frances’ ability to communicate verbally is limited. So over the years, she has mostly kept to herself but has always maintained a strong relationship with her family in Columbia.

It was after one of Frances’ trips home that Jenna Stewart, a teacher/counselor and paid neighbor at Frances’ supported living site, recognized a pattern: The first thing Frances mentioned after every visit was her family’s cat.

That got Jenna thinking. What if Frances had a cat of her own?

With the support of other BCFR staff members, Jenna and Frances made several trips to the Humane Society, looking for a cat that clicked with Frances. On the third trip, Frances met Angel and by all accounts, it’s a perfect match.

“We assisted Frances with shopping for food, litter, toys and cat accessories,” Jenna said. “I noticed that Frances is more vocal with her cat and often will talk to her.”

Matt Hoff, supervisor at Frances’ supported living site, said Angel is the first pet a resident at the site has adopted. Staff immediately noticed Angel’s positive impact on Frances.

“She has really responded to caring for the cat and making sure all of her needs are met,” Matt said.

Frances’ devotion to Angel was apparent one recent afternoon when a visitor was invited to meet her pet. The moment Frances pushed open the door to her apartment; Angel pranced from the bedroom and curled around her owner’s ankles. Frances bent down and scooped Angel into her arms. The cat purred with satisfaction.

At a recent meeting with her client, Ann worked with Frances to create a budget. At the top of her list: cat food and litter for Angle. When asked what she thought has made the biggest difference in her life, Frances didn’t hesitate.

“Angel,” she said.

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