Kittens Help Alzheimer’s Patients

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Kitten fostering has become a form of therapy for Alzheimer’s patients at a California assisted living home.

When Lori Harp, one of the caregivers at Tehachapi Manor, showed up with a kitten from Have a Heart Humane Society, the residents immediately became interested in caring for the kitty. “We thought nurturing a small animal would be good for the ladies,” said Harp.

Three Alzheimer’s patients: Elma, Bev, and Jane, dote on Sunny the kitten (or Tom, as Elma calls him). They want to make sure he is being fed and loved. “It really helps the ladies,” said Harp, “to take care of something else during the day, to give it love and kindness.”

Even though the ladies struggle with memory, the presence of the kitten helps them remember feelings. Harp added, “Even though they don’t remember what’s going on, as long as they remember those feelings–the feelings of fun, the feelings of laughter– that’s the most important thing to an Alzheimer’s patient, and they feel that here,” she said.

The ultimate goal of fostering is adoption and Sunny will go home with his new family on Monday. The residents of Tehachapi Manor will then become a foster family for two new kittens.

3 thoughts on “Kittens Help Alzheimer’s Patients”

  1. What a wonderful form of therapy! I like the idea of helping Alzheimer patients remember feelings even when they can’t remember events or people. I think that’s very important…

  2. Excellent story! Wish that more agencies would use therapy kitties for their residents. I wonder if therapy kitties would help at the long term acute care hospital I’ve been working at. I’ve seen so many patients who have had to leave their kitties behind either because of a life changing accident or illness, and it’s so sad to see how they miss their feline (and canine) babies. Many of them are able to return home to their pets fortunately. I wonder what would have to happen in order to set up a therapy pet program.

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