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After Retiring, A School Teacher Found His True Calling — Being The Dedicated 'Cat Napper' At His Local Shelter

Photo: Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary / Facebook via Canva
Cat napper Terry Lauerman sits comfortably on a couch and is joined by a calico fur friend.

An 80-year-old retiree absolutely melted the hearts of many animal lovers everywhere when he decided to become a professional “cat napper” at his local shelter — and no, he doesn’t steal cats. He actually naps with them!

After retiring, one man decided to become a ‘cat napper’ at his local shelter.

In a video on TikTok, an 80-year-old retired Spanish teacher, Terry Lauerman, decided that he wanted to make the most out of his retirement, and he did just that by volunteering at the Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary, a no-kill shelter dedicating its services to cats and dogs with special needs or disabilities.



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According to the shelter, Lauerman became kindly known as “Cat Grandpa Terry” by taking naps with the shelter cats for up to four hours every day. “I'll come in and I'll be greeted by my favorite cat. Her name is Hopper,” says Lauerman. “I think it might lower my blood pressure; it’s such a pleasant experience. The cats like it too.”

Terry Lauerman, a professional cat napper, sleeps quietly on an armchair with a special fur friend.Photo: Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary / Facebook

Interestingly enough, Lauerman didn’t start volunteering at the shelter as a cat napper. In fact, he originally intended to help out by brushing and petting the cats, but the retiree would end up accidentally dozing off on the couch while his little feline friends cuddled up alongside him. 

Lauerman's popularity helped the shelter raise thousands of dollars in donations.

Since 2017, Lauerman’s fun little story has reached viewers far and wide. On the shelter’s Facebook page, staff uploaded a post with some photos of a napping Lauerman in the presence of some very sleepy cats. 

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“We are so lucky to have a human like Terry,” reads the caption. “Terry just came along one day and introduced himself. He said he'd like to brush cats. Eventually it became everyday. He brushes all of the cats, and can tell you about all of their likes and dislikes. He also accidentally falls asleep most days. We don't mind — Cats need this! Terry is a wonderful volunteer.”

The 80-year-old cat lover had gotten so popular that the pet sanctuary was able to raise $100,000 thanks to all of those cat naps.

“I’m just a person who loves to take naps with cats. I hope to inspire somebody on the internet because life is short,” says Lauerman. And what better way to spend your time than in the company of a cat?

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The famed cat napper has brought recognition to the shelter’s incredible work with animals that have special needs or disabilities. 

Sadly, animals with special needs, or those that have endured traumatic events that lead to injury or disability, are frequently met with additional challenges and stigmatization due to their unfortunate circumstances. 

Photo: Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary / Facebook

As a consequence, many prospective adopters often turn away from an otherwise wonderful, loving fur companion deserving of a warm home just like any other. Luckily, places like Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary exist to provide adequate care and attention for these animals who have a higher risk of getting euthanized or neglected. 

Still, as a nonprofit organization, the sanctuary operates entirely on donations, and providing food, care, shelter, and treatment comes with a hefty price tag.

For cat lovers like Lauerman and animal enthusiasts all over, a donation page has been set up to help keep the shelter running smoothly to help improve the animals’ quality of life and, of course, their quality of naps.

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Xiomara Demarchi is a New York writer and frequent contributor to YourTango’s news and entertainment team. Keep up to date with them on Instagram