Should Seniors Bring Cats to Senior Citizens’ Facilities?

CatChannel and CAT FANCY cat behaviorist Marilyn Krieger, CCBC, explains why cats are great companions for senior citizens.

Q: My 80-year-old grandmother is moving into an apartment in a senior citizens facility. She has a sweet 10-year-old tabby cat, Misha. My grandmother and Misha are very attached and always with each other.

My grandmother loves Misha and doesn’t want to be separated from her. The new facility is pet-friendly and the staff can help care for Misha if necessary. My mother thinks Misha should stay with us because she doesn’t think Misha will do well with the move. I disagree. What do you think?

A: I strongly feel Misha should go with your grandmother to her new apartment. Separating them will cause more trauma and stress to the cat and your grandmother than moving. Best friends should stay together. Separating the cat from your grandmother could have terrible consequences, including depression and isolation.

In addition to the strong bonds and shared companionship, dogs and cats help people through depression and loneliness and promote an interest in life.

Physical Health and Emotional Fulfillment: In May 1999 the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society published an article about the benefits of seniors living with pets. Paraphrasing the article, it states that seniors living with “pets tend to be in better health than those who do not live with pets.” Pet parents benefit physically and emotionally from the responsibilities and daily routine of living with pets. Their dogs and cats need food, grooming, walks, play sessions and clean litterboxes.

Lower Blood Pressure: Pet dogs and cats also can prolong life and help people retain good health.  According to a study in the American Journal of Cardiology, 1995, people who live with pets have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels than those without pets.

Increased Social Bonds: Additionally, pet parents love to talk to other people about their beloved companions. This is crucial; a high incidence of elderly people feel isolated and lonely.

Many other studies support the benefits of living with pets. Check out some on the website for The Pets for the Elderly Foundation.

You don’t need studies to see the positive impact that companion animals have on residents in senior facilities. Check it out yourself. Residents who live with their beloved animal companions seem happier and more engaged.

I urge you to convince your mother to let your grandmother take Misha with her to the new apartment. Both will benefit immensely from the continued companionship.

Article Categories:
Behavior and Training · Cats