19 November 2016

INNOVATE - Assisted Living Residents Save Orphan Kittens

The Pima Animal Care Centre (PACC) has partnered with Catalina Springs Memory Care in Oro Valley to provide the bottle feeding, socialization and love orphaned kittens need to survive and thrive.

(Pima Animal Care Center)
This innovative program was seen by PACC as a way to save kittens and by the Catalina Springs Memory Care board as a positive way to enrich its residents’ lives.

Catalina Springs serves the special needs of individuals with Alzheimer's disease, dementia and other forms of memory loss.

“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,” Catalina Springs Memory Care executive director Sharon Mercer, said in a statement.

“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. The kittens have given us the opportunity to nurture this human condition that lies in each and every one of our residents.”

Catalina Springs staff are involved to ensure cats don’t miss a feeding and all their needs are met.

The first two kittens to go through the program, Peaches and Turtle, arrived in mid-October and with great weight gain and socialization, they are thriving.

The residents seem to love it too.

"They [seem to] recognize them as babies, and the human instinct to nurture just kicks in automatically," Rebecca Hamilton, health service director at Catalina Springs, told Upworthy.

"We have noticed that [in] interacting with the kittens, we have residents who struggled with putting complete sentences together, or struggled to find words, could all of a sudden communicate," Hamilton continued. "They could look at you and say, 'This kitten is hungry' or 'I love this little baby.'"

The program gives individuals residing in an assisted living facility a sense of purpose and improves the quality of their lives.

Its success showcases the power and beauty of the human animal bond.

While animal therapy has been shown to have a positive impact, adding the extra dimension of providing care and having responsibility for the animals seems to take the outcome to another level.

It won’t be surprising to see other animal and assisted living organizations implementing similar programs.

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