|Nine-year-old Peyton Weiderick and his therapy cat Clijsters|
HERE'S a heart-warming story for you about two therapy cats, their effect on a little autistic boy and the generosity of people who paid for an operation for one of the moggies.
The cats, called Clijsters and Stosur after the tennis players, have been instrumental in helping nine-year-old Peyton Weiderick cope with his illnesses, which also include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and a sensory disorder.
Mum Karlinda, of Saskatoon in Canada, says he struggles with everyday challenges, especially swapping from one activity to another. He used to have meltdowns every time he got home from school but thanks to his two therapy cats he is now much better at coping. As soon as he gets home he cuddles the cats and calms down. If he's upset at other times he goes to his room and cuddles his pets.
“It helps him just calm down and get himself in order so he can talk through what he’s feeling,” said Karlinda.
But then the family found out that Clijsters needed extensive dental work and they couldn't afford the $2,000-plus cost. Karlinda was considering giving the cat to someone who could afford the work but first contacted the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan to see if they could help.
The university had a look at Clijsters and discovered she had an autoimmune disease which was beginning to eat away at her gums. However, they said she might be eligible for help from the Good Samaritan Fund, which provides free or subsidized medical treatment for stray animals or those owned by people who can't afford the bills.
Vets at the college pulled all of Clijsters’ teeth last month and the cat’s transformation has been “amazing,” Karlinda said.
“We didn’t realise how sick she was; we thought a lot of cats, as they get older, become lazy and sleep a lot,” Karlinda said.
Since the surgery she has been jumping and running and is so much better. It was then discovered Clijsters had a heart murmur which has also been treated.
Karlinda was encouraged by vets at the college to set up an online GoFundMe fundraising page to support Clijsters’ post-surgery care. It has so far raised $3,950 which will be used to buy the medication Clijsters will need for the rest of her life.
Peyton helped set up the page and sent personal thank you notes to everyone who donated.
“It just meant a lot to him that people cared enough about him to help his cat,” Karlinda said. "Some of you might say it's just a cat. But to a boy with autism it's his 'person' who is always there for him."