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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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  • Such a great commination: People helping animals and animals helping people.

    GRACE NEFF November 22, 2016 2:37 pm Reply
  • Wow, what a great idea. Talk about a win-win situation.

    Janet Robinson November 22, 2016 5:55 pm Reply
  • Isn’t this just the best!!! Blessings to all who put these precious kittens with these precious seniors.

    Winnie Adams November 23, 2016 4:51 pm Reply
  • I wish this was done at every senior center like this. The absolute best and the kittens are being socialized with people too. The people seem like they are enjoying themselves and they have a purpose during the day too. Great, great thing being done!!

    Jean November 28, 2016 10:37 am Reply
  • This would be a great program at any senior center.

    Carolyn November 28, 2016 12:57 pm Reply
  • The perfect way for Kittens and seniors to interact. Great idea So sweet

    Joyce November 29, 2016 11:34 am Reply
  • ‘God Bless Them ALL!

    Elaine December 6, 2016 5:16 pm Reply
  • What a wonderful idea. Love given and contented kitty and person feeding.

    Fran Westhead December 27, 2016 6:38 am Reply
  • What a BRILLIANT idea! Love and blessings to every human and furbaby involved in this wonderful project.

    May our Heavenly Father bless ALL animals, their environments and the people who are passionate about them! xo xo xo xo xo xo

    Wendye Louise Kolles January 25, 2017 1:11 am Reply
    • thank you, Lord!

      karen January 25, 2017 6:54 am Reply
  • When my late grandmother was in a senior facility, a local group did the same. It was a blessing to the seniors, and I fancy the kittens too. And, oh, did my grandmother love kitties! Now she’s Home with countless kitty cats and kittens. May the Lord bless the seniors, kittens, and Pima Animal Care. And thank you and bless you freekibble for this moving, touching story of love. In the love of Christ, Allen.

    Taking care of business! January 25, 2017 2:03 am Reply
  • Great idea, win, win for the seniors and the kitties!

    JT January 25, 2017 3:32 am Reply
  • I wanted to share this story but when I click on FB it has a story about an old dog. Please correct link. I copied and pasted the link from this page, and it copied with the senior dog story. This is important and awesome news and I’d love to share it. Thanks!

    JanVirtual January 25, 2017 4:45 am Reply
    • Yes, I’ve had the same problem!

      Peggy Bendel January 25, 2017 10:33 am Reply
    • same problem here. 🙁 Such a great thing needs to be shared.

      Beth Patterson January 25, 2017 9:23 pm Reply
  • They should do this everywhere! It’s a win-win.

    Tina Hodges January 25, 2017 5:33 am Reply
  • Absolutely adorable

    Diana Ciolli January 25, 2017 5:52 am Reply
  • How WONDERFUL!! God bless you all for taking care of the kittens 🙂

    Beth Bell January 25, 2017 5:55 am Reply
  • Everyone involved is smiling. I am certain that the program is a bit hit with the residents.

    Barbara Boeshe January 25, 2017 9:00 am Reply
  • This is what I call a “win-win” situation!

    Nanci Merczel January 25, 2017 10:20 am Reply
  • We lived in Tucson AZ (Pima Co) from 1994 to 2008. I was pleasantly surprised at the level of animal care in general, and caring for Community Cats in particular <3 What a great story.
    Tucson is the location of the first cat sanctuary in our country – The Hermitage <3
    I'd love to share this story, too 🙂

    KatWrangler January 25, 2017 10:42 am Reply
  • This is just incredibly wonderful. As a retired nurse who used to deal quite a bit with those with memory loss, I KNOW this will work everywhere it’s tried. The residents so take to children when they visit, full time kittens would/could change their mentation & spark a renewed lust for life.

    VickyBevis January 25, 2017 11:06 am Reply
  • The story failed to mention that Pima Animal Care and Catalina Springs are located in Tucson, AZ! PACC is striving to become a no-kill shelter and is at 90 percent now! We are very proud of our shelter.

    Mandylove January 25, 2017 1:57 pm Reply
  • What a fantastic idea — talk about win-win — I hope this smart idea spreads throughout the land & beyond our borders — think of the lives being saved — think of the happiness, health & comfort being shared — again, top-notch concept — thank you to all — I love you all.

    marismet January 25, 2017 2:14 pm Reply
  • Bless you all for being so kind.

    lainer51 January 25, 2017 6:27 pm Reply
  • Why does the Facebook Share link lead to another article on teaching your puppy???

    Theresa January 25, 2017 9:54 pm Reply

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