Tigger Ogden, Pet Therapy Cat

Tigger Ogden, a trained Pet Therapy cat and Island Cats rescue, died peacefully of old age on January 25. He was known and loved by many Roosevelt Islanders. 

Two of his biggest fans, his owner Joan Ogden, and Margaret Lopes, Supervising Children’s Counselor at Coler Hospital and facilitator of the hospital’s Pet Therapy Program, remember him here.

Joan Ogden writes: I do not know when or where you were born, Tigger, but you came into my life on May 14, 2006, on Mother’s Day. You had been found abandoned outdoors one winter day in the Island’s community gardens, declawed. Two adoptions were unsuccessful. One family returned you because you “talked” too much and wanted too much affection. You weren’t much to look at and seemed like an ordinary cat. Soon you showed me you were anything but ordinary. At first I thought you were a slow learner, but you were just stubborn. I was the slow one. Everyone who met you saw how special you were, to the point I was strongly encouraged to enter you into the Pet Therapy Program at Bide-A-Wee. Several months later I enrolled us, me for training and you for testing to see how you would handle people with physical and mental disabilities and things like being shouted at and handled roughly. Not only did you pass with a perfect score but you outscored me.

You became a favorite with young and old; from exam-stressed students at the Juilliard School and three City Universities, to elderly patients at the Greenwich Nursing Home and Coler Hospital. In fact, you had more relatives than me: Jewish and German grandmothers, uncles, aunts, and so many friends all over the place. You liked to visit with the senior across the hall. And you once tried to warn me, leading me out into the hall, that another senior needed help.

From giving out Halloween candy (while in costume), to visiting seniors in other buildings, you were incredible. I watched how you would flirt with the women and then hang out with the men. Dog people said you had the spirit of a dog.

You were anything but ordinary, Tigger. You were a gentleman and a scholar. You are missed and loved.

Margaret Lopes remembers Tigger’s work at Coler Hospital, where he calmed and cuddled with patients for seven years. “Tigger was an extraordinary animal. He had such a gentle soul. He would get really connected to the residents who are very sick. He crawled up and lay down right next to them. You could basically put him anywhere and he would just lie there and give comfort.

The limit for Pet Therapy animals is a 20-minute window, more or less, depending on the animals. However, Tigger used to go for two hours and more at a time and had absolutely no problem. He actually enjoyed his job. Extraordinary is the only word that comes to my mind. He was so special, and he was also extremely special with other animals. He was a one-of-a-kind creation and there will be no other like him, ever again. I’m so sad.

Tags: People Island Life Jennifer Dunning

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