Cat Comforts Veteran and Holds His Hand Before He Passes


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A former shelter cat has become the counselor and caretaker for resident veterans at Salem VA Medical Center in Salem, Virginia (a hospital for veterans).

He has a very special gift. Meet Tom the cat.

Photo: Salem VA Medical Center

When a patient passed away recently, one of workers said to the doctor that Tom looked up at him and meowed.

Tom and the patient shared a special bond. He had known him well.

"He had been with the veteran and his family at a time that was hardest for them," Dr. Blake Lipscomb told Today. "Doing exactly what we wanted him to do - to help make a more low-stress, homelike environment."

The resident veterans really appreciate what Tom does for them. He is always able to brighten their day even during the darkest times.

Photo: Salem VA Medical Center

Tom isn't too into cuddles, but he loves to keep the veterans company and knows just when someone could use some comfort. He seems to know more about empathy "in the moment" than his humans.

This ginger feline takes his job very seriously. "When he quickly ran out of the room, I found that he was headed to 'work' and I knew that he had a job to do," Shelby Benois told The Dodo.

Photo: Salem VA Medical Center

"Tom seems to have a sense when someone may need a little extra comfort," she said. "Sometimes it is the patient who needs him the most but often it can be a family member.

"He can spend hours with one patient or just stroll down the hall and visit with many. He has become a very important member of the health care team and certainly knows his role as a comforting caregiver."

Photo: Salem VA Medical Center

The ginger boy patrols the rooms to offer much needed companionship that could be life-saving to some veterans. He has that innate instinct to comfort someone in need.

The staff at the hospital has seen it from Tom time and time again.

Photo: Salem VA Medical Center

Right before the veteran passed, Tom hopped onto his bed and placed his paw on his hand, so he could depart with a feline friend by his side, purring away.

"It was a beautiful passing. And that cat is the one who made it happen," Elizabeth Gehlert said.

Photo: Salem VA Medical Center

Cats just know when their humans need them. Share this story with your friends.

(h/t: thedodo)

Related story: Cat Comes to University Every Day So She Can Rescue Students

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