Basil was one of three 2-week-old kittens found dumped in a field and brought to a local animal shelter. She didn’t stay there long, though. Tina Parkhurst of Beaverton, Oregon, happened to be volunteering that day, and all three kittens—still at the age where they needed to be bottle-fed—went home with her to be fostered. One didn’t survive, but the other two, Basil and her brother Mack, never went back to the shelter. They are Parkhurst’s beloved cats, and Basil is now a successful therapy cat and feline model—for BISSELL.
The orange-and-white tabby is one of only 100 or so therapy cats recognized by therapy animal organization Pet Partners. Her calm nature and ability to connect with people made her a natural for the training to make visits to facilities. Basil will sit on a towel placed on a bed or a person’s lap. To entertain residents at nursing homes, she sits up on her hind legs and gives a high-five.
Basil’s work as a therapy animal made her something of a local celebrity. When a public relations firm in Portland needed a cat for a BISSELL commercial. Parkhurst received a call asking if Basil could audition. The BISSELL team loved her!
"Not only was she cute but she wasn't scared of being in different surroundings, like an office building, " Parkhurst says.
Basil recently completed her third photo shoot for BISSELL. Although she doesn’t know a large number of tricks, she’s smart and calm. That makes all the difference on the set when it comes to following directions for a scene. She follows a laser pointer through a room with ease. And chaos doesn’t bother her.
The last BISSELL shoot we did was in a beautiful home with a huge living room,” Parkhurst says. The director wanted to get the dog and kids to run through the room chasing each other. I asked if he wanted Basil to stay where she was, lying on a chair. He was skeptical that she would stay put but was willing to give it a try. The kids and dog ran through the room, playing, being crazy, and the whole time Basil stayed on the chair being queen of all she surveyed.”