School Therapy Cat Helps Students Through the Pandemic and Beyond

When Kendra’s students needed emotional support, cuddles with a cat named Mochi brought love, understanding, and care.

Kendra + Mochi

Teacher Kendra was surprised when her school superintendent suggested that she bring her foster kittens to the classroom. Then a cat named Mochi became an expert advisor in cuddles, love, and understanding.

"Many days a student will come to my door and ask for some ‘kitty time.’ They want cuddles with Mochi. "

The pandemic brought about so many changes for schools, most of them heartbreaking. But one change that was welcome on our campus was the introduction of therapy cats. I was surprised when our superintendent said I should bring my foster kittens to school, and I had to double-check that she wasn’t joking. This simple statement evolved into me adopting a kitten—Sundae—from San Antonio Pets Alive and training her to be a therapy animal. Several months into bringing Sundae to school, I adopted Mochi (also from SAPA) as a companion cat for Sundae—not to work as a therapy animal. She was never supposed to go to school with me to work with my students. That was Sundae’s job. But one day, almost on a whim, Mochi came to school with us. She followed Sundae’s lead… and before I knew it, her relationship with the students blossomed. She and Sundae are now at school almost every day with the students, and Mochi has by far has the strongest relationship with the kids.

Almost every morning, there are students waiting to see Mochi outside my door. In class, Mochi often sits in my teacher’s chair as I teach to keep an eye on the students—and to wait for them to be available to give her pets. Many days a student will come to my door and ask for some “kitty time.” They want cuddles with Mochi. Sometimes it’s more of a need than a want. There have been times when a child comes in sobbing or on the verge of a panic attack. Mochi will sit with them without judgment. I can bring her to sit on the couch with them and she will stay, knowing she is needed. Sometimes students come for time with Mochi that I don’t even know about—but they know she is there, and they trust her to offer her kitty therapy openly.

In addition to being a great therapy cat at school, Mochi gives lots of love to the foster children who have come through my home in the last year. She has calmed more than one tearful episode or trauma-based tantrum.

The pandemic has been difficult for teachers and children, but at least we have a furry smile to look forward to each day. When things get tough, the kids and I know that everything will be okay. A deep breath and some cuddle time with Mochi will calm us down, make us smile, and allow us to focus on something positive.

Each year, Petco Love Stories invites adopters to share how their pets have changed their lives to give the organizations that they’ve adopted from the chance to receive grant awards. This story by Kendra won San Antonio Pets Alive! in San Antonio, Texas a 2021 Love Stories award.