Senior Citizens Give Orphaned Kittens Some Much-Needed TLC

A novel fostering program pairs orphaned kittens in need of bottle-feeding with assisted-living residents who have a lot of love to give.

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Alexander “Jerry” Petrie holds tortie Turtle during a fostering program. Via Pima Animal Care/Facebook

When kittens get separated from their moms, they need a lot of care. When seniors need a lot of care, sometimes they are separated from their families. Two groups decided they should meet, and the results are heartwarming.

Pima Animal Care Center and assisted living facility Catalina Springs Memory Care teamed up to pair senior citizens with foster kittens recently. The two Arizona organizations began the program last year and continued again in 2016.

“What is more enriching to a life than the ability to give and receive love — at the same time?” Rebecca Hamilton, RN, who works with Health Services at Catalina Springs Memory Care, asked in an interview.

“We provide round-the-clock care to our residents and are able to provide the same to the kittens with many willing hands,” Hamilton continued. “The socialization the kittens receive from so many people eager to hold them and play with them will make them confident members of their new family.”

Seniors swoon over two bottle babies.  Via Pima Animal Care/Facebook

Seniors swoon over two bottle babies. Via Pima Animal Care/Facebook

In 2015, Pima Animal Care Center took in more than 2,100 kittens. Because the feeding schedule can run as frequently as every 2 to 3 hours for newborns, the kittens have trouble finding foster families. It occurred to Catalina Springs that one of its enrichment activities could both improve its residents’ well-being and make a difference for homeless cats.

“Memory loss does not erase the ability to love and nurture,” Hamilton told Petcha. “Both grandmothers and grandfathers have proven equally adept at bottle-feeding the kittens and even rocking them to sleep in their laps. They realize that this is important work and their contribution is literally saving lives.”

John Claude Collinet smiles as he holds Turtle.  Via Pima Animal Care/Facebook

John Claude Collinet smiles as he holds Turtle. Via Pima Animal Care/Facebook

Residents always have caregiver staff supervision; the staff prepares the bottles and even takes over the night feedings, too. Hamilton says it truly takes a village to help the kittens grow healthy and happy.

“It must also be said, kittens are fun!” she said. “Two fluff balls that each weighed only about 6 ounces have brought so much joy into our community.”

Hamilton says the senior center is looking forward to more kittens, and that
she hopes their journey with two orphaned kittens will inspire similar partnerships for the good of all.

To support this and other programs, contact Pima Animal Care Center and Catalina Springs Medical Center.

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