The cat grandpa who volunteers to sleep with the cats at the shelter: the charming story of Terry Lauerman

Hangai Lilla

2022. December 24 - Photos by Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary on Instagram

A few years ago, the 76-year-old retired teacher started going to The Safe Haven Shelter in Wisconsin to groom cats. But his mission quickly evolved beyond that. On each visit, Terry settles down on one of the comfy couches and takes a nap with the kitties, raising money for them.


The shelter considers Terry a real gift from God and they thank him every day for his existence. “I’ve always been a cat person. It is a blessing for me to be able to touch such a creature.” – said the cat grandfather.

He’s not just famous for sleeping with the cats

It all started when the shelter posted adorable pictures of Terry and the cats sleeping sweetly together. Elizabeth Feldhausen, who runs the place, said that nearly $100,000 has already been raised by Terry, because the the cat grandpa is a real marketing manna for the shelter. Calendars, mugs, t-shirts, pillowcases and even a local coffee blend bear Terry’s face and name. And people love it!

The money allowed the rescue operation for cats with special needs to expand at the location. According to Terry, this just goes to show that changing the world can be a lot easier than we first think. “When you retire, you can do all kinds of normal things. Find something and do it, don’t waste your time.” – he continued.

What makes Terry even more lovable is that this huge success and fame has not taken his mind at all. He is happy because he can still snooze with his favorite cats, who can hear their purrs and brush their fur. Small pleasures, right?

Watch Terry with the cats in the video below:

Know the resident cats by name

He would much rather talk about cats than anything else. He values newcomers like Rhubarb and Ava, and he doesn’t forget those who have to live out their lives with some kind of illness or physical change. That is why it was particularly difficult for him during the pandemic. When the shelter was completely closed or visits were limited. Not only because of the special atmosphere of the place, but also because there are cats who have grown especially close to his heart. Such is the case with Goldie. Happily ever after, however, as soon as the gates opened, Goldie joined Terry on the sofa as if nothing had happened.

“The kitties who were here before COVID definitely recognize him and sit next to him like they did before.” – says the shelter’s owner. During the epidemic, the shelter had a lot of new residents, so Terry made even more friends after the opening.

Shelters need a lot of help

Although Terry’s story is extremely heartwarming and cute at the same time, the shelter didn’t need the fame it provided just because they simply wanted to be popular on the Internet. Volunteers such as Cat Grandpa allow the staff to deal with cats with special needs. The ones who are sick or need to be fed by hand, as Terry and the other volunteers entertain and care for the healthy cats.

Such facilities have an gradually difficult task, as the number of residents increases every year, and with it the cost of their maintenance. Terry’s story helps give more insight into this world, so maybe more people will think about supporting the shelters. Everyone with wich one can help. Toys, monetary donation, equipment, food; but as you can see, a helping hand can also do wonders.

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