Pets give love and companionship that can turn someone’s life around.
For elderly people who don’t get to see their family often, a pet can provide a whole new lease on life.
And yet, most retirement homes have a very strict no-pet policy for hygiene reasons and to be respectful to residents with allergies.
Orphan Kittens Find An Unusual Home
To bring a bit of joy to the elderly, an animal shelter collaborated with an elderly care center to pair up orphaned kittens and lonely residents.
After kitten season, the Pima Animal Care Center (PACC) in Tucson, Arizona, had too many frail kitties and too little staff to care for them all (1).
And so, Catalina Springs Memory Care Director Rebecca Hamilton volunteered the residents to bottle feed, love, and care for the kittens until they were old enough to be adopted. Hamilton, a registered nurse, has long fostered vulnerable animals and knew first hand how fulfilling caring for baby cats can be.
“The kittens’ weights have nearly doubled since the residents and staff from the Oro Valley center took on the around-the-clock job of bottle feeding them. Last year, we took in more than 2,100 kittens, and it is only through creative and caring programs like this one that we will achieve our goal of saving every one we possibly can.” Said Pima Animal Care in a facebook post.
The project did meet some resistance from the management of Catalina Springs, but it didn’t last long.
Sharon Mercer, Executive Director of the home, said: “To some, it may seem peculiar at first: Residents who are in need of around-the-clock care themselves, given the task to care for these young kittens. But there are skills, emotions, and needs that do not just leave a person with Dementia or Alzheimer’s. The desire to give love and receive love remains.” (2)
So far, both the kittens and residents have benefited from the experience. The kittens and the elderly have been noticeably happier.
“The kittens have given us the opportunity to nurture this human condition that lies in each and every one of our residents,” said Mercer
As Karen Hollish, a spokesperson for Catalina Springs Memory Care said: “This partnership is an amazing way to enrich the lives of the memory care center’s residents while saving the lives of our community’s most vulnerable pets.”