Image Credit: Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary Inc./Facebook


Catnaps and Kindness: A 75-Year-Old Volunteer Makes a Difference

Wisconsin man helps these vulnerable animals feel better with his presence — even when he's sleeping

A Wisconsin man with a big heart has turned his nap time into much-needed connection for vulnerable felines.

Terry Lauerman, 75, goes to his local animal shelter in Green Bay each day — and takes naps with the cats housed there.

“He just walked in and started brushing [the cats],” Elizabeth Feldhausen, the founder of Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary, told the Huffington Post, noting that he never asked to be a member of the volunteer staff.

“So eventually we told him he was an official volunteer and had him fill out our volunteer form.”

Feldhausen said Lauerman visits the cage-free sanctuary — which rescues disabled cats potentially at risk of euthanasia at other facilities — daily, and stays for about three hours.

After he grooms a cat for a little while, he typically dozes off.

“[He sleeps for] about an hour, then he’ll wake up and switch cats,” said Feldhausen. “He said [the brushing is] as great of an experience for him as it is for them.”

Lauerman and his catnaps charmed Safe Haven volunteers, and the group decided to dedicate a Facebook post to him Tuesday.

We are so lucky to have a human like Terry. Terry just came along one day and introduced himself. He said he'd like to…

Posted by Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary Inc. on Tuesday, September 18, 2018

“We are so lucky to have a human like Terry,” the shelter wrote, posting photos of Lauerman with lucky felines.

“Terry just came along one day and introduced himself. He said he’d like to brush cats. Eventually, it became everyday. He brushes all of the cats, and can tell you about all of their likes and dislikes. He also accidentally falls asleep most days. We don’t mind – Cats need this! Terry is a wonderful volunteer.”

Lauerman’s simple kindness has struck a nerve; as of Friday morning the post received over tens of thousands of likes on Facebook, and almost 5,000 comments.

One commenter shared, “Even in the best shelters I’ve been to, I’ve never ever seen a cat that felt safe and secure enough in a shelter to sleep-cuddle like this. As a cat lover, my heart is very happy; as a mental health professional who’s worked with a lot of stressed and traumatized humans, I think Terry is giving these fur babies a tremendous gift.”

And although Lauerman hopes the attention leads to more donations to Safe Haven, he also wants to remind people that he’s not the only person dedicating his time to the shelter.

“When Terry comes in today, I’m going to have to tell him that he’s famous. I can almost guarantee he’ll just laugh and say ‘Oh, really?’… shake his head … and then go back to brushing cats. He’s very modest,” Safe Haven posted.

Feldhausen said that Lauerman specifically praised another volunteer named Paula, noted the Huffington Post.

“Who is what he considers the cat grandma,” Feldhausen said. “He wants to make sure the people who do what he does every day get credit, too.”

See a shelter cat who loves to give hugs in the video below.