Homeless Veteran in Ohio cites Cat, “Companion Animal” as therapy

Companion Animal – One Cat Dose 

The following is from a blog by a disabled veteran living in NE Ohio.  He has been blogging since June of 2006 about his life and his attempts to negotiate through the VA system for medical care and also into some sort of housing.   I’ve had a copy of this article for some time because I was doing a little research on the homeless-with-pets problem.  Most shelters will not allow pets, and thus disenfranchise shelters as an option for many.   This homeless vet has at least been able to do some couch surfing with friends, but only those that allow a cat in the house.   Some won’t, but he can’t function without it.    He is working on a disability claim for 10 months now and is stewing over whether or not the VA will let him keep his cat if they find him an affordable place. 

The following came from his June 2006 archiveSee his blog here

Since last July when I became homeless, I have had to pare down even more of my belonging, throwing a lot of stuff out. Last July, between garbage and GoodWill bags — we counted 28. I really used to be an “adult” — a rack of kitchen small appliances, formal dining room, china, flatware, full living room, “home office”, guest bed, my own washer&dryer, all of that “adult” stuff, and now here I am, 30-something, with my “world” in a rented storage bay, trying to find a place to sleep where my cat is welcome too.

“Housed-homeless”, it seems like such a strange concept, but there’s probably more of us “couch surfing” veterans than anyone is counting as “officially” homeless

As to VA Homeless resources: the biggest set-back to me accessing VA homeless assistance right now is my cat. My social worker and [new!] psychiatrist have very well documented the fact that during the 10 months my disability claim was re-opened and still now that I am waiting on my I.U. claim — one singular thought “my cat can’t feed herself” has kept me from doing really stupid things more times than I can count.

In January, my psychiatrist amusingly asked me if I was OK with just one cat or if I felt I needed to “move up to a two cat dose.” No crap, he really asked me that! I told him that if she had a playmate, she would probably ignore me, so one cat works plenty fine for me. 8lbs of nothing but fuzz and cuddles can really make a difference on an ugly day.

They won’t let me move without her, and finding open space with any friends where both of us are welcome is really tough. It’s true, she does keep me alive, so I can’t really argue with them, but trying to find yet another place where both of us are welcome drives me completely insane whenever I wear out my welcome where I am at. The VA prefers that I spend $20/month on food and litter, rather than ask them to spend several thousand dollars to keep me inpatient every time the world looks really black and I can’t even fathom as far as “lunchtime tomorrow.”

Every time it takes me weeks to find somewhere I can keep her with me and actually have to consider the reality that I might just have to give her up — yes, my world falls apart. My cat is listed as a “companion animal” in my records, not as a pet, but do you think the VA is doing much to help me find an affordable place where I can keep her? Cats are not the VA’s job.

Oldtimer’s Comment:  Click for All Homeless Veteran Posts

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2 responses to “Homeless Veteran in Ohio cites Cat, “Companion Animal” as therapy

  1. I am a nurse case manager for wounded warriors and am seriously interested in starting a kitty/cat companion service animal program for wounded warriors. I love this posting and want you to know that now I have been validated. I know of two wounded and my own husband who the light of his life is an 9 lb ball of black fur. go figure. LTC SBTaylor

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