Caitlin UltimoPet Parenting / Pet Stories

Pets Doing Good: Dogs With Jobs and Cats on a Mission

Toby and Jasper: Michael Cervin, a full-time writer in Santa Barbara, decided that his two adorable tabby cats could help make a difference, even if they aren’t certified therapy pets. The kitty duo, Toby and Jasper, have each starred in their own calendars that were sold to raise money for a local pet charity in Santa Barbara and the local ASPCA. They plan on doing another joint calendar this year. “This is something anyone can do in their own community—a simple but practical way to get involved to help out local animal shelters or charities,” said Michael. He’s had both cats since they were about six weeks old. Toby, who is now seven, got his start bringing daily smiles to Michael’s friends online with his “Toby Tuesday” posts, which featured a new pic of the fabulous feline and a short, funny phrase. Both Jasper and Toby also appear in Michael’s “Movie Cat Monday” posts with a famous line from a film and a picture of the cats “acting” it out. “The entire point was to bring a little joy, hopefully a little laughter into whom ever saw it,” Michael explained. “And I’ve had many people over the years tell me how much they appreciate it, or they needed a laugh just then.” He wanted to share the kitty love with even more people, and at the same time, raise money for a good cause. “I tell anyone who will listen that one of the single greatest gifts you have is the love, loyalty and pure companionship a pet can provide—be that a cat, dog, bird or iguana. Animals can think and feel, and I fully believe they live to the level they are loved, and provide healing in so many ways.”

Toby and Jasper

When we think of having a pet, we usually picture a pet with their specific owner. But in reality, our pets bring joy and comfort to our extended family and circles of friends as we share their silly antics and cute poses with others, day after day. Therapy dogs and cats, in particular, are certainly more than just a pet to one person. They make it their job to share love and cuddles with anyone in need—from senior citizens, to children with autism, or kids that are scared to go to the dentist. And as Toby and Jasper have shown, you don’t even have to be a therapy dog or cat to be able to give back—just an average pet with a big heart.

Nikki Naser
Nikki Naser, Pet Central Senior Editor
Instead of owning 30 cats, Nikki has an impressive collection of 30 cat-themed T-shirts, and just 4 pets—a ginger-haired senior cat, a senior Maine Coon, a middle-aged Choodle, and a young kitty who showed up one day on the back steps. A former Orlando resident, Nikki worked on several tourism publications before moving to South Beach. When she’s not stopping to take pics of community cats to post on Instagram, Nikki spends her time with the office pets at Chewy, writing for their Pet Central blog.