A rescue cat with a special personality and the love of his new family offers support as a therapy animal for Colorado communities.
Kiko the cat loves people. His quirky personality makes him perfect in a volunteer team for Human-Animal Bond in Colorado, working alongside owners Robin and Brian Chavet. Since starting as a therapy cat, Kiko has become known for his special energy and positive presence at HABIC events.
“We’ve done a variety of volunteer activities with HABIC that include visiting schools, hospitals, CSU de-stress events, hospice, long term care, and special events,” said Robin Chavet.
Rescue cat finds new family and purpose
Kiko may have learned something from his brother, Timber, who has worked as a therapy dog with the Chavets since 2016, but Robin says Kiko’s personality is also unique.
“From the moment Kiko arrived, he made himself right at home,” said Robin.
The Chavets adopted Kiko from Animal Rescue of the Rockies. He was seven months old and had been transferred to Colorado from Louisiana.
“He wanted to constantly be with us,” said Robin, “either on your lap, carried, playing with Timber or just hanging out in the same room with you.”
To their surprise, Kiko also loved riding in the car and traveling in their RV. “Everything to him is a grand adventure!” said Robin. “He is unlike any cat we have ever owned.”
During a visit with a veterinarian at Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, the Chavets learned Kiko is a spotted Bengal cat. “This helped explain the quirky personality traits,” said Robin, “he’s vocal, mischievous, athletic, loving and friendly.”
Becoming a therapy cat with HABIC
“After a few months of him being in our lives and discovering his love for human contact, we consulted with [HABIC Animal Trainer] Kate Miller to see if he would be suitable as a HABIC therapy cat,” Robin said.
“As soon as Robin said that she had a cat who enjoys car rides and adventures, I knew Kiko was a good therapy cat prospect,” said Miller.
“When I met him for his behavioral, he was confident, gregarious, and exploratory,” Miller said. “He tolerated all types of touch and being scooped up. In fact, he even enjoyed it! He is truly a special cat, uniquely equipped for this work.”
Robin Chavet was introduced to animal therapy through her role as an intensive care nurse at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, where HABIC teams visited. “The comfort and smiles they bring to both patients and staff prompted me to leap into the therapy dog world.”
“However I had never heard of a therapy cat until they started showing up at HABIC events I attended with Timber,” Robin said.
Today, working with HABIC as volunteers has become something all the members of their human and animal family do as an act of service.
“We have had so many rewarding experiences sharing our animals with others,” Robin said. “The social, emotional, cognitive, and physical benefits they provide make it worthwhile. We hope Kiko and Timber continue the mission of HABIC for many years to come.”
About Human-Animal Bond in Colorado
Founded in 1993, Human-Animal Bond in Colorado (HABIC) is a center in the School of Social Work, part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences. HABIC’s mission is to improve the quality of life for people of all ages through the therapeutic benefits of companion animals, with particular focus in the areas of community outreach, teaching, and research.