A Purr Massages the Heart: A Therapy Cat Story From The Boston Bombing

May 11, 2013 | 2013 Articles, Lee Juslin, Pets

by Lee Juslin

My name is Jacoby Koh or Jake to my friends and clients. I am a certified therapy cat, but not just any therapy cat, because, while there are many good therapy cats out there, I’m at the top of the therapy game.

Usually my human and I make regular visits to patients at Tufts Medical Center, but on this particular day we were told no visits because the city is on lockdown. Huh? Must be big to stop my work. My curiosity was aroused, and you know what they say about curiosity and cats.


Later, we got an email from our friends at Tufts telling us to report for duty at a place called the Boston Sheraton. There was to be an event sponsored by the Boston Athletic Association to benefit the first responders and folks who had been at the finish line or in the medical tent at the marathon when the bombs went off. Soon I was in my Pet Partners uniform, my custom carriage standing at the ready, and we were off. Little did I know that this would be the toughest assignment yet of my stellar career.

When we arrived, the first thing I noticed was a number of other therapy teams on hand. Whoa, this was big! And, speaking of whoa, there was my therapy associate, Lily, she of the equine persuasion. We had little time for small talk. Duty called.

Jake and Lily

As we went into the hotel lobby, I was immediately struck by a sense of almost overwhelming sadness mixed with a bit of fear but also determination, blanketing the entire area. I sat up straight and tall in my carriage, my chocolate coat gleaming, my gorgeous green eyes darting here and there to take in the entire scene. I knew right away I would need my A game.

People, who seemed quiet, even a bit lost, began to mingle with us professionals. I had my purr cranked all the way up to high, and I head butted and rubbed against folks as eagerly as I could hoping to change sad faces to happy smiles. I am, if I do say so myself, especially good at doing just that.

Here we all are ready to help in the aftermath of the Boston bombing.

Those people who came over to meet me were all class acts. They were cat people, and some shared photos of their own cats with us. Between my human talking to them and my comforting purrs, we made quite a team. First, we talked to a nurse who had been in the medical tent and had seen some awful sights. She showed us photos of her cat, Fred. Then, we talked to a military woman, also a cat person, who really enjoyed stroking me. But, who wouldn’t given my beautiful, soft coat. Did I mention these people were all very discerning types?

This is one of the memorial shrines we visited.

We worked the crowd for about two hours, and I definitely felt that blanket of sadness lifting when we were through. On the way home, we visited the memorial shrine where my human left a photo of me. In fact, there were a number of shrines at many of the nearby intersections with crowds of people visiting them and leaving personal messages. This had been quite a day.

The one thing I still don’t understand is that you humans have declared yourselves the highest, most evolved species. That opposable thumbs thing and all. Yet, you are the only species capable of committing acts of mindless atrocity against one another. The only species that can produce pure evil. Perhaps you are not as evolved as you think you are.

Look closely to see how my human and I contributed to the Boston Marathon Shrine.

“Cats look beyond appearances–beyond species entirely, it seems–to peer into the heart.”
–Barbara L. Diamond

Respectfully submitted,
Jacoby (Jake) Koh with Lee Juslin and Coco Koh

If you would like to follow Jake’s adventures, check out the daily Abyssinian blog: Aby A Day.

Lee Juslin is a free lance copywriter living in North Carolina with her husband, Scott, and her band of misfits: Tarquin, a Wheaten Scottish Terrier, and three handicapped cats. They can be seen on their website: Hampshire Hooligans. She owns I B Dog Gone, a small embroidery business and is the author of the Nurse Frosty books for children and Frosty’s Story: Tales of a Therapy Dog. She supports a number of national and regional terrier rescue organizations.


  1. It there ever was a story to tell or a happy ending in the Boston Bombing, Lee has it. Thank goodness for Jake, his Human and all the others including the story tellers.

  2. These just keep getting better and better!! LOVE this one!

  3. I’ve seen Lee write some excellent articles but this one goes above and beyond. What could have been a really sad article, makes me smile because Jake gets to tell the story himself.

    Plus Jake got to wear cool clothes.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Hi Lee. What a wonderful story. What a loveable cat is Jake??? It was such a terrible situation, but you and Jake made it a softer, kinder world for all those who were so sad, confused, and in so much pain. Had I been there, I’d want to be petting my own cat, but Jake would be a close second. I can already hear his huge heart purring out love to everyone around him. A wonderful, beautiful cat. A great thanks to you for nurturing him to be the terrific cat he is.

    • Hi Fern,
      Thanks for the kind words. I’m not actually Jake’s Mom – I wish! He lives with Coco in Boston where he works really hard as a certified therapy cat and keeping up with his extensive wardrobe as I’m sure you can tell.

  5. Hi Lee, another great story about a purrr fect cat who along with other therapy animals could help lift some spirit from a tragic event. How wonderful that they along with their humans could come to the rescue if only for a few hours.

  6. I loved this article, Lee. Wonderful. Wish I could meet Jake!


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