How Oreo the Cat landed a great job (and what she can teach you)

On your average night at the St. Augustine Health Ministries, a nursing home in Cleveland, Ohio, residents and staff members will likely find Oreo the Cat sitting at the reception desk.

“Oh look, Oreo’s answering phones at the reception desk because it’s after hours,” they’ll say.

No, Oreo’s not actually answering phones, but he is often “on the job” bringing joy and comfort to most everyone who resides at the facility.

“Most of us grew up with pets, and many of the people we serve here had pets, but when they come into a nursing facility, they can’t bring their pets,” said Dana Carns, director of advancement at St. Augustine Health Ministries. “She just is a break, and makes it like home.”

There are over 200 residents living at the Ministries, some of whom are recovering from strokes and other similar brain injuries.

According to the staff, having a feline friend around noticeably improves the moods of residents. She may even be helping them get better. Several studies suggest cats’ purrs have the power to heal bones.

What every job hunter can learn from Oreo’s job search

  • Do your research before getting your foot in the door

A couple years ago, Oreo was a stray cat who used to hang outside the Ministries. Eventually, however, she won over the staff, moved inside, and got the job: she became their resident cat.

  • Become a familiar face 

So how did a stray cat land such a sweet gig in a warm nursing home where she gets all the head scratches she could want? Simple — persistence and charm. This is something every job hunter can take away from Oreo’s experience.

In Oreo’s case, passively hanging outside the Ministries allowed staff members see her everyday, and get to know her pleasant disposition. Granted, she’s a cat, and there’s not much more she could’ve done to get noticed — but in her case, just continually showing up paid off in the end.

This can also work for you.

Many career sites suggest persistence (up to a point) is necessary when going after the job you want. It’s important to show your continued interest in the position, but not take it to the point where you’re calling or email three times a day.

Make sure a company’s hiring managers know your name and your face. They’ll think of you when the next big job comes up.

  • Be fun to work with 

It’s unclear whether or not Oreo had been an indoor cat earlier in life, but she picked up the “job” quickly, and soon enough, was everyone’s favorite staff member.

“She’s such a character,” Tim Fredmonsky, a security guard who works at the north entrance, told “The residents see her and pet her all the time. Even the visitors get a big kick out of her. She’s a good cat.”

  • Find a niche that no one else is filling 

The nursing home wasn’t exactly in need of a cat, but Oreo found a way to show them that her talents were necessary.

She isn’t quite a lap cat, but she’s very fond of attention, and is often described as “the greeter”.

“She’s like our family here,” said receptionist Carmen Delgado.

Oreo filled a void the staff didn’t even realize was there. She makes staff and residents alike smile, laugh, and just generally feel more at ease. Those are rare talents, and not often ones you find in job descriptions. Sometimes that’s what ends up getting you the job rather than what you have listed on your resumé.