Disabled cats help those who help them

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There are many different ways a person can cope with a mental disability. Some are now turning to therapy of the four-legged kind. Shelby Rose shows us how not-so-ordinary cats are helping their volunteers in a big way.

Kitty City, a cat sanctuary in Mandan, started housing cats with disabilities back in 2016. They put out a call for volunteers, and what came next was unexpected. 

“Over the course of the next couple years, we realized something amazing had happened. Not only were the volunteers helping the cats, that’s kind of a given, but the cats were helping the people,” said owner Alison Smith.

It became a type of therapy for their volunteers. They struggle with different things like PTSD from the military and other mental illnesses. 

Volunteer Megan Hartley said,  “Living with anxiety and depression, and seeing them overcome like that, I draw my own strength from it.”

“I can talk to the cats versus talking to a counselor. I mean a counselor is good, but being out here, just being with the cats and petting them, it’s just calming enough,” added volunteer Matt Gartner. 

There are cats of all different disabilities here at Kitty City like Stitch, who has severe balance issues and is also blind. You will also see cats who are missing limbs, have brain damage, and are deaf.

Gartner added, “You know, it’s just so heartwarming to be able to assist them and help them to make their lives better.”

Kitty City even has a program called the “Kitty Club” for those who just want some love and attention after a bad day. And they say it works wonders. 

“After I left, it was just so more… I felt so much better,” said volunteer Jennifer Deutscher. 

If you are interested in volunteering at Kitty City, reach out to them at (701) 220-4449 or on their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/kittycitymandan/.

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