NMU Wildpups welcomes first feline member, Butterscotch, into program


Ayanna Allen/NW

WILDPUPS? WILDCAT! – Butterscotch (left), the first cat to join Wildpups, the animal assisted therapy program on campus debuted with his handler, Diana Perry (right).

Ayanna Allen

NMU Wildpups, an Animal Assisted Intervention (AAI) program, introduced their new feline member, a cat named Butterscotch, into the group on Oct. 27 in Lydia M. Olsen Library. The program aims to enhance well-being and reduce the anxieties that come with being a college student.

According to the Wildpups homepage, an AAI is a human (handler) and animal team that has special training to aid in the improvement of physical, cognitive and psychosocial functions. AAI is an umbrella term that covers animal-assisted activity, education and therapy. 

The Wildpups falls under animal-assisted therapy (AAT) which contains the handler-animal team that provides a “professional service” of physical, cognitive and psychosocial therapies. Programs like this not only increase well-being but reduce the stigma associated with therapy. 

The pups in the program are the companions of NMU staff and faculty, others from Superior Land Pet Partners or Pet Partners. Wildpups, as their name indicates, has only included dogs in the program …until today. 

Butterscotch, a 2-year-old cream and white Maine Coon mix debuted as the first cat to join the Wildpups. A cat joining the Wildpups provides a unique experience, especially for students who have cats at home and are missing them. 

“I got him from my aunt when he was 7 weeks old. He was pure white when he was born,” saidDiana Perry, Butterscotch’s handler. “He loves to lay up in his cat tree and go outside to hunt. Butterscotch is very outgoing; [he] loves the attention.” 

Outside of receiving attention and hunting, Butterscotch loves to eat Temptations cat treats and hang out with his brother, a black cat. 

For those who are interested in attending a Wildpups (and cat!) event in the future, the next one will be hosted in the Lydia M. Olsen Library on Nov. 7 from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. If looking to volunteer for the program, reach out to Casey Hopper at [email protected]