Cats for Seniors

Cats make golden companions for people in their golden years.

When John (Bud) Lovell, 85, first met Priscilla, he knew she was the cat for him. He spent many hours meeting the feline residents at the Good Mews Animal Foundation, but was always drawn back to the mitted mackerel tabby’s shy personality and striking golden eyes. “She is a beautiful cat and we just got along right away,” Lovell says.

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Upon return to his assisted-living apartment complex, Lovell placed a small orange tree near the window of his second-story apartment. Priscilla spends her days in the windowsill under the tree, watching the birds gather around the feeders outside the window. At night, Priscilla curls up on the bed beside Lovell.

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Lovell and Priscilla’s partnership is a direct result of an innovative adoption program designed to support senior pet adoptions. Good Mews Animal Foundation in Marietta, Ga., – a no-kill, cage-free rescue in its 24th year with more than 100 cats in their care. The Golden Companions program is sponsored by a $5,000 grant from the Doris Day Animal Foundation. “The grant allows us to waive the adoption fee of senior animals to senior citizens,” says Nancy Riley, member of Good Mews Board of Directors.

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Cats in assisted living facilities are becoming more common as care providers realize the value of allowing pets to live on site. Studies show that pets offer seniors a clear sense of purpose; they also improve morale and allow seniors to handle stress better. There is a physical benefit as well. According to a 1990 UCLA study, seniors with pets are more likely to exercise, have lower blood pressure and a decreased likelihood of depression.

Lovell can certainly attest to the benefits of having a pet. “Priscilla has brought me such joy,” Lovell says. “Even when she’s just sitting in the window watching the birds, she brings me pleasure. We’re a great match.”

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