Kate Cote talks to us today about her past and how cats have helped her overcome stuttering as a child. She’s had 16 cats over her lifetime and each one holds a special place. Kate started Fur Love Comfort Cats over 20 years ago and enjoys bringing peace and purrs to each new client they visit
Welcome to the professionals and animal Rescue podcast, where a goal is to introduce you two amazing people helping animals and share how you can get involved with animal rescue. This podcast is probably sponsored by do bert dot com. Do Bert is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues and shelters and the only site that automates rescue relay transport. Now on with our show, Keiko Tae is the owner and creator of For Love Comfort cats bringing peace and pers to those around her for more than 20 years providing pet therapy to those people and manage care facilities. She brings her traveling cats with her to provide comfort to those who need it most. Hey, Kate, welcome to the program. Hey, Chris. Thanks for having me today. So tell us a little bit about you. I think I’m really fascinated to hear your story and kind of how you got into this business. Well, unfortunately, the beginning of my life was not the best. And I came from a really bad background Thio. And, um, I was thinking about this today. What I want to say on the interview in over the course of my life. I’ve had severe anxiety. Uh, is the child I had terrible speech problems. I was basically a stutterer. I couldn’t speak to anybody at all. And through all of that, I had a little cat that I took everywhere with me because she made me feel like life wasn’t so lonely. You know, because a lot of people, when you have something wrong with you, people have a tendency to avoid you, you know, because you’re just too much work to deal with. Oh, I have this little cat and I took her everywhere in over the years. Fortunately, I’ve been healed by anxiety, and you can see I’m not a stutterer already more, um, in. But because I have that early early background of taking a little cat with me everywhere, I’ve just continued it throughout my whole entire life. Interesting. So So then when did you turn this now into kind of kind of a business. Really? Right. So you’ve you’ve always had cats you’ve always enjoyed and connected with cats. But when did this really become a passion and a career? Really? For you? Well, it really it kind of evolved because, um, you know, a number of years ago. The cats and I did street ministry up in what stuff? They were at the church. I was going to have the street in the street and course the church thought that was bizarre. You know that I was going up on the street with a cat shirt. Ah, but the street was amazing. The how the inner city people there were people that no one could reach. And when I went on the street with a cat, you know, the people would come. They will call each other on the phone and say, you know, Mimi’s on the street, Kiki, or, you know, Buster and it would drive people out in. So so and then I was volunteering in a nursing home because, you know, my aunt was there and, uh, three years ago, I lost my job and I thought, Wow, what I promote This is a service. Sure the if there’s any, you know, interest in this is the service. And of course, you know, I’m a retired office worker. I’ve had all kinds of jobs over my life, and, you know, I’ve started helped people start businesses and organized of insistence and I thought, Whatever, just do it for myself and it’s really it’s really funny because even though I’ve done this my whole entire life, you know, up to the last three years, you know, everyone thought I was insane. You know, people thought it was like, the weirdest, stupidest, strangest thing. Because of the way society has changed, it’s something that’s highly sought. After I did my own website and I they send me a report. You know how many hits you get on your website? Last month we had 250 hits on the website. That’s awesome. I almost died. Uh, be right. That’s gotta be a mistake. 150 people looked at our website. You know, when this thing is to that, no one does this? No, I’m the only one that does it in. So, you know, you could search all over the whole world and you will not find another program like for a love comfort cap. So tell us. Yeah, for our listeners tell, tell him a little bit about what? For love, Comfort cats is about and what you do. Well, we the cats will we’ll go anywhere that anybody wants to hire us. We’ve talked to, you know, families who have autistic Children that they would like to bring a cat to them. Um, we go to nursing homes. Uh, well, they’ve been to church. We can’t just go everywhere. It’s unbelievable. But they it’s all my own methods. The cats go on a strolla. Well, they’re free to walk around in Mr Ola. And if they wanna jump out on someone’s bed and sit with somebody and, you know, interact with them that way, they can, um, we do, you know, as many visits this week, you know, as a facility would like us to do we have We have minimums and maximums because the travel time and all of that I require that they have this come for two hours and the maximum miss four because I can’t sleep. Are you gonna say you’re eating into their sleep time? Yes. So, uh, you know, it’s so I’m very cognisant. We I have certain cats. Um, it’s really funny because it was trying to people, you know, the cats were out with me all week, ended like a public setting, and I was saying that all the people that we were that we were visiting where they said, you know, I make it look very easy. But I said it really isn’t, you know, because, like, you know, we’re in memory key units. In a few weeks ago, we had an unfortunate episode with poor Samson, and he was able to fall right back on his training. Um, a woman that I’ve worked with many, many times, you know, before all the sun just grabbed him by the throat and and I was sitting right there, and the whole thing just went down so quick. And Sammy, I was so proud of him, Chris, because he just ran away from her. He was like, Get the stroll like it. All right, let’s go around here. Yeah, but he could have been hurt, you know, he could have bitten or scratched me, but he didn’t do any of those things because she’s used to getting in and out of the stroller in the stroller was home base. So he just jumped right back in the stroller, and I just And then I put my hands up tonight I said to the woman, No, no, you can’t. You know, you could pitch church’s head. But you can’t grab him like that again, you know? So, you know, I have to be watching all the time. I mean, the cats are unleashes, and so they’re in the stroller, and they’re also want to leave, but they know that they’re free, you know? They can’t run around. They have to be well behaved, you know? And we walked through when people path. Um, um, you know, at first it was a hard sell because I don’t let anybody pick them up. I don’t pick them up. Cats don’t like to be picked up, right. So, you know, a lot of these people were saying, you know, in the facilities. Well, what did they do? And 20 s it? The one woman I said, you know, we’re not the circus, you know. And now the facilities air catching on. And they see that. You know, some people just want to look at, though they don’t even want to touch them. They just want to look at them and talk about their colors. And so, you know So basically what a basic this it looks like, is I will into a person’s room with a cat missed Rolla. I sit on their bed, you know, the cat gets out and the person could pathum intellect to me. And it’s kind of cute because they always want to know what cats have been up to during their week. Yeah, they want to hear all the stories about the cats, then a really big benefit to the resonances. Which is why I think we’re catching on now is a lot of assisted living places, like people have pets. But when the people get to the point where they can’t take care of their pet and what happens, you know, how is that handled? The facility has to say we’re sorry. You have to get rid of this cat. You can’t do the literal ex anymore. You can’t take care of it on then. That’s kind of, ah ugly situation for them to deal with. And so if they hire us to come in, the people and so apt to say I want a cat because they know that there’s gonna be a cat on site. Some places we go every week. Some places we go once a month, but the facilities promote it, and the people know that they can look forward to that. They can look forward to seeing us, you know, it’s just really, you know, Ah, home. Anything to d’oh. Yeah, it’s really unique, Like you said. And I’m curious. How many cats do you take any given sessions? Um, well, when we’re working with kittens, it’s interesting when I because we have two feral cats and our program Joe, Mama Ellen and Sore Rose in they were actually trapped in in the wild, and they were too old when they came here. They were three months old when they came and another kid, I worked with him and mentored them. And now they’re fantastic comfort cats. And so when they were little, I worked them together, you know, to help them build their confidence. But then what happens is you can’t work them together too long because then they will only interact with each other and they won’t interact with the people. So they got to work together for a year, and then I noticed that they were too involved with each other. But then the kittens, the lions that I just started working with every year old now they had to be separated at six months because she hasn’t anxiety. And Sampson’s very easy going, And, um, she would make his brother all hyper. So now they’ve been separated. And so once they’re there acclimated to the program on Lee won one ghosts at the time. Interesting. So now it’s just you. Do you have other volunteers to go with you or people that you’ve trained to do this? No, it’s all just me. And now people are standing this eight, you know, can you make a video? When did you do this? And could you do that? But, you know, a lot of people, because my own methods, the methods that I’ve come up with, a lot of people go. You say, You know, Well, when this ball you gotta put a call around Well, I’m not gonna put a call around. I don’t believe that, you know? And then you go. Okay. Well, I don’t believe in highnesses, you know? And so then you go. Well, you’ve gotta walk them. You know, so many. I was the day, you know, you have to start walking with them and getting them to come for the least. Oh, well, I’m not gonna do that. And why are you asking me what my method is right, you know? So it’s like, Well, how do you think that you’re gonna have a cat that’s gonna respond to you like this one If you don’t want to do this, you know. So these are my own methods. Like when they come in, this kitten’s they start out with, you know, a small caller, and they go to bigger collars. And But, you know, all of the things that we do here, head of like, unexpected. And if it’s in one of the things that you see, sadly is when there’s a disaster, people can’t find the cat, you know? And the cat is alive because gets find it and hides. I go to my kitchen and I rattle delicious. And I go Who wants to go out on leashes? Who wants to go out on leashes? And that’s this big stampede. Oh, come on, mate. They hold their call us up to be hooked up. And then I walked him all outside. Wow. So you know how many herds have you been doing while I’ve been doing it all my life? And then how many years. Have you been visiting and doing this more as you know, bringing the cats to people to visit? I think I think I started that. So I had a brochure and I don’t have it handy right now. But somebody was looking at it last night and they said All the while you’ve been doing this over which one he is and it’s like, Oh, yeah, it’s probably more than 20 as I have a picture on my bird show that’s 20 years old and that was like the first picture that was taken in a nursing home. But I think that before that picture was taken, I was already doing it. You know, when we have quite a local following now, with people in our area, I’m in Douglas Vance, a juice, it’s and cage here. Your listeners want to know you know what state I’m in or where I’m located, and you know all of the surrounding towns. No, me. And it’s kind of cool, because now people that were Children when you know I moved to Douglas. I’ve been here 34 years now, their Children of visiting with the calf. So you know, it’s like a multigenerational program. Cool. Yeah, it’s really kind of cute because some of those original Children he had allergies. And so now they’re kids. They’re coming to me in there saying, you know, Katie, we wish we could have a cat, but Mom’s allergic to kiddies, you know, and so I let him sit with me and stuff. And so instead of these kids growing up and not having any exposure to cats because mom or Dad’s allergies now they they want to have a cat. They’re like, Wow, when I get my apartment and I’m going to get a kitty, you know, Will you help me? And I’m like, Oh, yeah, course I will, you know so well, right? So you like sewing into a generation of future cat lovers? That’s awesome. Definitely to be focused on the next generation. So now you’ve been doing this for, like you said over 20 years. I mean, you have you gone through different generations or different groups of cats and doing this? Oh, yes. Um, you know, it’s funny because, you know, I have all these questions that people ask me, and I would love to just put them on flash cards. You know, I go here, flip through this to find your answer. You because you come up to me and they go, My cat would never do that. These must be special caps, and I look at them and I actually have counted this up over my lifetime, I have had 16 cats that I’ve worked with who did not make it is comfort cats, and they actually didn’t like living in this house with these cats, So they both went out. I found them homes for people who really I knew we were gonna be good animal owners. And one woman you can’t made such a big difference in her life that she lost like, £200 was like curative depression because of the cat that came from here. And then another man had Tourette’s syndrome and the cat became his personal comfort cat. So of all the cats I’ve worked with, they’ve all been successful. That’s amazing. So now what does the process? I mean, you mentioned before that you’re starting him out as kittens and getting them used to collars and leashes, and you’re socializing them. But kind of what’s the secret sauce behind this. What goes into making or, I should say, allowing a cat the opportunity become a comfort cat. Well, you know, the thing is, it’s I’ll tell you a cute story. I hope she’s not listening way. We got a new client a few weeks ago and really gorgeous assisted living place. And we don’t visit any other places that are like this one. And the normally they have, like a bed sitting woman than like a little kitchen. Well, this place people have a pilot, and then they have a bed. Woman, they have a little kitchen. And I had so arose with me. And so Rose is just very personable. And we went in. And, of course, the first place we went into the woman was sitting on her couch. We don’t have a couch. None of the places we visited have a couch. Interesting. Okay, I said to So Rose. Okay, so a Rhodes jump jump. She’s looking like I don’t think I want to jump on that. And so I could see she was really having a hard time. And so I said, Oh, I looked at the woman and I said, and then you know, people always stack all. They’re afraid me, this, that I said no, I said, It’s a problem I said, I think she has a problem with the couch And I said She’s never seen a couch before And I said, Would you do me a favor? I said, Could you set on you bad? And so the woman jumped up and she ran in her bedroom and I went in. And so Rose leak right up on the bed with her instead of walking around and current and letting a powder. And so the woman, it was really a staff member working with us, which was great, too. And Leah just said to everybody, You know, she’s, like, familiar with the couch. So, you know, would you sit on the bed, wither and everybody was like, Yeah, shoe And, you know, we went through this whole facility, and by the time we finally got to the first full, she started walking like on the back of the couch and looking down at the steep in all of that. And so I was telling that story this weekend and somebody said, How in the world did you figure that out and I said, Well, it’s because I have such a close bond with them that I knew instantly that she was in trouble, right? She gave you a look and you could Yeah, you could tell. No. Yeah, she looked like she was, like, concerned or confused or stock or whatever, and so I was able to tell that right away. But in a lot of families and homes, people don’t have that connection with their cat. You know, they just go, you know, you give them the food at a certain time and you know, the cats come because they know it’s time to eat or they like you because it’s time to eat. But these cats have huge vocabulary, huge. I don’t have any family, and there’s no one here to compete. You know what? The cats from my attention. And so I tried to them. They understand words. They understand what’s going on, you know, then I don’t mean to make it sound like they’re trained in any way, but they know like there’s a command that’s jump jump in. That means the jump on somebody’s dead dump in the stroller or jump in the cat. But I was out with a friend of mine one day and she kept saying, Jump, jump, jump, jump. And they wouldn’t do anything for her because her telling them jump jump had no relevance to them. Yeah. Why would I listen to you? Yeah. So even though it was the word jump jump, it’s not like a magic word that’s going to make them perform. It’s because I have a connection with them, you know, And I let them. You know why I let him handsomely way. I let them be themselves, you know, Now I have a new term here. You know, when people say to me, Well, what did they do? I say in the actual cap, you know, they act the way a natural cat would act in its home. You know, I don’t let anybody grab them or force themselves on them or whatever. You know, I let them go to the people, you know, when it’s really kind of funny, because sometimes they’ll have a person that they don’t care for. Yeah, and that person has to pathum in the stroller. And I would never say that person, you know, other people, they’re like, Wow, Look It’s Chris and they run right over in that so they would be here. So we’ve just extended their boundaries. Who wherever we go. And of course, that’s a lot of things they have to get used to. They have to get used to elevators. You know, the Maine Coon cat hates elevators, and when you get him in an elevator, he howls. Quit going up to the next floor, you know, but in and I have to. I have to understand them and how to work with, um, right. No, it’s and it’s interesting. As you said, you’re you’re unique and kind of what you do. And hopefully for people that are listening that maybe your story will inspire somebody else. Because I think there is such a a place for cats in this in this world. And it’s just amazing to me what you’re doing at them, and you’re socializing them and introducing them to new things. And it’s your your enriching their lives and the lives of the people you visit. Yes, in the you know, the best part of it all. Chris too, is that, um you know, when we go around, I also do like grief counseling with the cats. You know when people have lost pets. But this is like such an unexpected blessing because, you know, you know where in your sick comes, of course. And we run into, you know, family members that are not in the nursing home, and people will come up to me and they’ll say, You know, I My cat died and it was so painful that I never was gonna get another cat ever again. And I have not had a cat for years. And then they go. I see the joy that not only the cats bring to the people that they’re visiting, but the joy that they bring to you. Then they give me the list, you know. Well, then I went to the shelter and like you and your wife, while I got a black cat, I got a one eyed cat. I got the old this cat. I got a diabetic cat. I got a one eyed cat, you know, it’s so they were like thousands of stories that even though we don’t do rescue ourselves, we helped the rescue community by being animal ambassadors. Because we’re going everywhere in, you know, little kids see the cats and they get after their parents to get them a cat, you know, And it’s just there were just so many other benefits to it. It comes down the staff, you know? I mean, you know, they’re always trying to get me to go to these facilities and work for them, and it’s like, No, that’s not my thing, you know, in the staff, you know, that’s gonna be a hard job and the staff members come running out. They want to visit with the cats. And so it’s just a win win thing in the fact that you know I have a team of cats. They know that we can always show up. You know, most people have one dog that they work with, and then something happens. The door gets sick or the person gets there, and then the whole thing just ends. And then that’s more lost for the people you know, in the facilities. Sure, it’s like I don’t want that to ever happen here. So, you know, for love, Comfort cats is multi generational and, um, and one of our cool things is that the older cats work with the cantons you know, in the for love method. And so, like if people want a website or a Facebook me, just see there’s all kinds of pictures of the old, the camps, how good the kittens and they’re like while we’re getting a new comfort cat and they’re all just so gun all one you know, passing on the gift to the next generation of kiddies that comes along, Yeah, this is It’s that’s I said, It’s so unique what you’re doing. It’s so exciting to hear. I mean, you hear a lot about different types of therapy dogs and things like bad and and, you know, cats sometimes get left out because people think that they’re not. They’re just not suitable for this. And I I applaud you for what you’ve been doing for so many years and enriching the lives of the cats and the people. And it Sze, you’ve definitely proven that there’s a place for cats in this world doing this comforting people and just bringing joy to them. Oh, yeah, you know when people try and build it up, you know, every so often, people, So the therapy cats and it’s like, No, no, you just comfort cats, the rial calves, you know, I mean, I don’t have any education and, you know, But, I mean, I look around and I see there are so many people in the world like Jane Goodall. And, you know, I cried for days when Koko the gorilla died because I was crying for the people who worked with her, you know? And I mean, you’re just some people that it just naturally gifted. They have a natural gift, and that’s my gift. Is being able to work with these calves, you know? And now, people, like all you know, I’d like to adopt one, and you work for the cat for me, and it’s like, No, because you wouldn’t keep it up. You wouldn’t keep working with, um, you know, I mean, cause cancer, that’s like us. You know, you stopped doing something here you go on a diet. It’s a bunch of weight, and you just fall off the wagon and, you know, everything goes out the window and cats a like that, too. You know, you have to keep working with, um and, um, you know, when it’s nice to see like, even though that episode with the Empson was kind of, ah, disaster where that woman grabbed him in an inappropriate way that he was able to fall back on the conditioning that he had so that, you know, he had the tools to turn that situation around so that it wasn’t a bloodbath. You know, it just ended up being OK. This is something that we can just I know how to deal with this and he’s only a kid and he’s only year old, and that was his first time of having something like that happened to him. And I was just so proud of him. I mean, that that has ever happened. So I don’t need to make it down like the cancer, you know, Hamdallah time, Cause I wouldn’t I wouldn’t do this if that’s how it went. Um, but you know what was great to stay that, you know, she didn’t freak out, like, you know, cats would normally do, and under that kind of a situation, yeah, it’s great. And it’s it’s stories like that that, like it’s your paving the way for somebody else to do this. So it’s I’m really fascinated by everything that you’ve done and appreciative like I said, what you’re doing for both the cats and the people. And you know, Kate, is there anything else as we start to wrap things up, is there anything else you want to share with our listeners? Yes, I have. I have, like, a huge, huge dream win on a nonprofit right now, which is why we’re we’re a company, because I don’t. You know, I’m not getting in a lot of money right now for the business, but my big goal is I would like to have a comfort center, and it has to do with suicide. Um, I this has come up in conversation a lot lately, and I kind of apologize boat talking about such a good subject. But, uh, actually, I was suicidal myself. And a lot of people have come to me lately and said, you know, I was suicidal, and then I thought, What’s going to happen to my pet? You know, if I commit suicide, you know what is gonna happen to my pet. So if you flip that around and think about these people who have depression, what happens to them when their pet dies and they have suicidal tendency you know it could that is, that something that would push them over the edge. And sadly, I heard of of situations with someone’s kept his died. That’s all he had was a pat, and they had no family. They have this path that pet died, and so today. And so my vision would be have for a love comfort center. We’re if because somebody you know, I would probably say 70% of the people who lose a no only pet I’m never going to go to a shelter as they feel like they’re being disloyal to the pet that they’ve lost. So what the Pearl of Comfort Center would be? It would be kind of a bridge to support people who have lost a pet instance to put them through the grief process and help them to heal so that they can get another pad. And so what it would be? I would, uh, there’s actually some property that I’ve seen around letter that Robbie ended, and then Chris, maybe someone will hear this and say, I have a property. I’ll donate it to you. I would like it to have, like a cat dio on the outside you know where, like people could go and just sit with the cats and play with the more the wander sees the mining around and because they can’t do that when we’re doing, you know, managed visits and a residence and those a different visits also with seating citizens. But this would be or ambulatory people that needs some help when they’ve lost a pet like, say, you had a friend who lost a pet, you say, Hey, let me take you to the full of comfort Santa. You know, I think that would really, you know, help you to get over your grief. And you know, a lot of people think in there again. That’s you know something out that, you know, you could go and they have centres. You know they have cat cat Dios in California, Adopting pets? No, the cancer places have, you know, brief guns if you’ve lost a child. But I don’t know of any comfort centers that are geared to helping people get over the loss of a pet. And, you know, really, the loss of a pet, I think, is the worst pain that someone is ever going to go through because there’s no bad memories when you have a pet. I mean, yeah, they might bite you a scratch it, but they don’t do it because they want to ruin your day. You know, they just do it because they were in the moment, you know? And so it’s very, very hot. Some want to recover over the loss of a pet, and so that would be my big dream. You know, to have a for love comfort center help people getting get over grief. And, I mean, they could come up. They’ve lost a family member or whatever. You know, cats. A very intuitive, um, you know, knowing when someone needs some comfort. I just think it’s something, you know, like these. They’re cool idea. Yes, something. The visits were something that was needed. And now this would be the next level, and it would be an animal shelter. I mean, they wouldn’t be available for adoption. They would be comfort cats, like, you know, there would be these cats on Lee. People could come and visit them and whether they were a little more free to be themselves. Yeah, well, like you said, hopefully somebody listening to this Well I think that that’s a great idea that they can assist you with. And I look forward to having you back once you’ve made that happen so we can talk about it some more. Oh, yeah. I can’t wait. I’ll be calling you. What’s your cell phone? Came true. Well, Kate, thank you so much for coming on. Today was so great to talk to you. And it was great of you to have us, Chris. Peace and pers. Thanks for tuning into today’s podcast. If you’re not already a member, joined the air p A to take advantage of all the resources we have to offer. And don’t forget to sign up with do bert dot com. It’s free and helps automate the most difficult tasks in animal rescue. Yes.