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Wheelchair gets in the way of cat’s need for affection

By Ernie Williamson

The Bulletin

Bear, our last surviving cat, has always been a loner.

When the doorbell would ring, he would scamper to his favorite hiding place. When we had visitors, he would hide under the bed. When other cats played with toys, Bear would only watch.  

Would he let you pick him up and pet him? Not a chance.

But the other cats have passed away, and Bear has no feline company.

He is changed. Now a “teen” cat at age 14, Bear apparently misses his mates. He now demands attention and follows me wherever I go.

In fact, he is sitting next to me as I type this column.

All this attention from the new Bear would not be a problem except I am in a wheelchair.  And Bear likes to get right up next to it so I can reach down and pet him.

I am deathly afraid of not seeing Bear and accidentally running over him.  We all know that our beloved pets are not always smart enough to detect danger.

Bear is a strong cat.  Never been sick. He, however, would be no match for my wheelchair.  

Kelly, my wife, constantly warns me when she sees I am about to roll away. “Watch out for Bear, he is right behind you,” she says several times a day.

The problem gets worse at night. Except for a white spot on his belly and some eyes that shine like headlights, Bear is all black and almost impossible to see in the dark.

Afraid that I may injure Bear, I went online to look for tips and suggestions about the situation.   Surely, there are other wheelchair-bound folks worried about the safety of their pets.

I was looking for reassurance that it was acceptable for a person in a wheelchair to own a small pet.

There was little information online apart from one pet owner who puts a bell on his cat so he always knows the cat’s location.

I did, however, stumble across a tragic story of a woman in a power chair who backed up from her computer and ran over her kitten. Not very reassuring.

Hoping to discourage Bear from sitting too close to the chair, I have tried ignoring him and not petting him from my wheelchair. That has not been too successful.  It is hard to ignore those big eyes looking up at you.

I have also tried pushing him away from my chair. That has not worked either. Bear mistakenly thinks I am trying to pet him.  

Kelly keeps treats handy to lure Bear away from my chair.

I feel fortunate that I have never injured one of our cats in my 12 years in a wheelchair.  I hope I can keep the streak alive.

(Contact Ernie at Or, send letters in care of The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516). 


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