PILLAR’s Therapy Cats Play a Valuable Role in the Laredo Community

As PILLAR continues to work on strategies for improving mental health at the local level, there is one in particular that many community members appreciate.

PILLAR recently introduced LMT to some of its very special workers: its therapy cats Mercury, Bowie and Nyx, who are its adopted furry friends.

“We found that being able to use animals as part of therapy was very valuable and important, and it turned out to be true,” he said.

Manny Sanchez, co-founder of PILLAR, said the cats have become very popular among their patients.

According to Sanchez, studies have shown that the presence of animals tends to reduce blood pressure and stress levels because it calms people down. For this reason, PILLAR has decided to use these therapy cats to help the public.

“In the three years we’ve had our therapy cats, the public has come to know about their existence,” Sanchez said. “They even come to ask for them by name as long as they’re not allergic to them, because they see the value they bring to the therapeutic process.”

“When people have suffered trauma, the presence of cats, even when lying on their lap, can be very calming. If people are feeling lonely or sad, the cat’s presence can obviously change their attitude at that time. there because they see something that brings them instant joy just because the cat is doing something in the room or even just by being on top of them and petting them.

Sanchez pointed out the difference it made having them, and even some are demanding special attention from a determined cat.

“It’s very nice to hear the audience when they come asking for them by name wanting them to be in the sessions,” Sanchez said. “It’s not just children, even adults are asking for cats.”

The story behind these felines comes from when the organization planned to make them a mascot. Only one was to be adopted, however, as they saw it was three sibling kittens, they could not separate them.

“We rescued them when they were just a few weeks old,” Sanchez said. “The plan was to have a therapy cat, but when we realized they were siblings we couldn’t separate them, so we brought in all three.”

Sanchez said everyone is very different and they have different personalities.

Mercury wants to be in all rooms and all sessions. Sanchez said he could literally open the doors and walk into the room. He likes the attention.

Bowie is the tallest of the three and is more of a loner. But he is very friendly and loves people.

Nyx is the only female of the three and has her own vibe; she must be in the mood to interact, but she is very loving and can spend hours lying on your lap.

Even though the idea came to try and get a mascot, they realized their worth and were transformed into therapy cats.

Sanchez mentioned that PILLAR also had a therapy dog ​​named Bold who was a golden retriever. He was sent to Austin for emotional support training but died of cancer in 2022.

Bold was very popular with patients, and now customers and even staff have continually shown very welcoming reactions to the cats.

“When we have board meetings, everyone is very careful not to disturb the cats, but we still do business,” Sanchez said. “They have been accepted as part of the PILLAR family, and they are only treated with respect because they are part of the PILLAR family.

“People should appreciate the therapeutic value that pets bring to our lives, and I think we should always be very caring and considerate of animals because they do a lot for us in return. We need to realize that.”

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