Therapy Cat in Coroner’s Office Kicked Out

Matilda the cat offers furry support to a coroner and her staff but county officials want the feline off government turf.

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When Margaret Fisher, Lexington County, S.C., coroner, was introduced to a 6-month-old kitten found roaming in a wooded area by her husband, Clifford, she had the perfect plan for the friendly feline: therapy cat.

Named Morticia, the former stray cat quickly took up the role as grief therapy caregiver at the Lexington County Coroner’s Office, which specializes in the investigation of violent and unexpected deaths, becoming a furry stress reliever for staff and grieving families.

“It’s been good for everyone, including us,” Fisher told The State. “She changes the outlook of people.”

County leaders, however, aren’t on the same page as Fisher, viewing Morticia as a liability with the potential to inflict injury to office visitors via bites or scratches, and raising concerns about allergic reactions to the feline’s dander. Their request? Eviction!

“I’ve asked her to find a nice home for the cat,” County Council Chairman Johnny Jeffcoat of Irmo said. “Our liability for that is huge.”

Fisher, however, isn’t backing down, divulging that Morticia is up-to-date on all of her immunizations and spayed. Additionally, she has a friendly disposition, and is kept in a back room where the public can only see and handle her upon request.

With these facts on her side, Fisher intends to appeal the feline’s eviction to the nine council members, hoping that they will make an exception to the rule that pets can’t be kept in county buildings, and allow her to keep the kitty on board. Though Fisher hopes things will go her way, she has numerous offers of a new home for Morticia should the council members hold firm to their former ruling.

“If they vote it down, then she goes,” Fisher said. “She’ll go on to another life.”

Do you think Morticia should be able to keep her position as grief therapy counselor?

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