Countless orphaned kittens are finding the love they need in an unlikely place ― the arms of dementia patients who need a little comfort of their own.
Last year, those at the Pima Animal Care Center in Tucson, Arizona say they took in over 2,100 kittens that were either orphaned, abandoned or homeless. Many of these cats were so young, they need regular bottle-feeding to ensure they gain weight and get proper nutrition.
Now the PACC has teamed up with the Catalina Springs Memory Care Center to give these kittens the nurturing care they need, while also bringing a sense of purpose and joy to dementia and Alzheimer’s patients.
“The kittens have enriched the lives in this center in indescribable ways,” Rebecca Hamilton, Catalina Springs’ Health Service Director, told ABC. Hamilton has fostered homeless kittens for years and helped spearhead the collaboration.
Bottle feeding, cuddles and playtime with the residents is not only helping the kittens gain weight and grow stronger, it’s helping the residents in a beautiful way.
“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 Memory Care’s 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.”
For some residents, simply interacting with the kittens helps bring back childhood memories, like Thelma Bradfield who was able to recall growing up on a farm with 19 cats.
Once the kittens have gained weight, they’ll be ready to be placed for adoption.
“The kittens have given us the opportunity to nurture this human condition that lies in each and every one of our residents,” Mercer said.