Therapy Cat

Jameson Care Center Therapy Cats Conquer Loneliness

Therapy Cat

Niles is Content as a Therapy Cat

I went into the Jameson Care Center to help conquer the loneliness of my favorite resident and discovered two resident therapy cats on duty. This was their reaction when they saw me…

Therapy Cat Growling

Fritz the Therapy Cat Growls

Jameson Care Center Cat

Niles Seeing a Ghost

 

Cats have come into their own as therapy animals. The Jameson Care Center has had at least one cat living at the facility since it opened in 1998. Smokey was the first cat…a big gray male…followed by Emeril and Tasha.

According to the Activities Director, Amy Bruno, Emeril was a black and white male cat who became very attached to a particular family on “B” Wing. After the resident passed away, Emeril was given to the family. The family still brings Emeril back to JCC occasionally. By living with the family, Emeril has helped them deal with the loss of their family member…it would have been devastating for them to lose him too. We hear that Emeril is spoiled rotten living in their home and has been treated like their baby…not just a cat.

 

After Emeril left, the Center adopted Zoe, a gray cat with some beige spots. She did well with her therapy work in the beginning but after the death of a particular resident that the staff feels she had been attached to, she became depressed and stressed … so Zoe was placed with a family outside the facility.

Tasha was quite old when she passed away in 2014. She was a long-haired black and white cat who liked to spend much of her time by the front office. Many of the residents who liked to pet her would come to the front of the center where she would sleep on the couch. Families liked to congregate there too and would often bring her treats.

Relaxing Therapy Cat

Niles Cuddled Up On A Therapy Room Mattress

According to Pennsylvania law,  pet therapy animals are required for care facilities. A member of the Board of Directors for the Jameson Care Center notified the Lawrence County Humane Society that another cat was needed. It just so happened that his wife, Susan Miller, was a member of the Society and had “fostered” two brothers for a few years in her own home. These brothers, Niles and Fritz, were volunteered to fulfill the therapy jobs left by the previous cats.

Niles and Fritz have turned out to be the most social cats ever in the facility. Whenever a new resident arrives, they often visit them to see what they are like. Amy has had several residents tell her that they don’t even like cats, but they just love Niles and Fritz.

Niles is quite active during the day. The other cats tended to sleep a lot during the day and were more active at night. As with Zoe, the staff notices that the cats get attached to particular residents and grieve when they leave. Niles, for instance, was very attached to a male resident on “A” Wing. When that man passed away, the staff saw Niles walk to his door several times a day looking for him. After a few weeks, he adjusted to his loss.

Although I visited Jameson Care Center in 2012 when my human “grandmother” was in the facility for a few months, I really don’t remember seeing any cats there.  In 2014, I had many weeks of visiting almost daily for about 6 weeks.  This time, my human “grandfather” was in for rehabilitation.

Although the cats were alarmed with my ghostly fluffiness at first, they eventually accepted me…well, Niles did.

Therapy Cat Monitor

Fritz Monitors the Front Entrance

Fritz tested my qualification to enter the building one day. Amelia had her arms full of cupcakes, her purse, and my leash and never saw Fritz come towards me with his hackles raised. I barked my “back off” bark and all the staff came running out of their offices to save the cat…haha. He acted like he was scared but it wasn’t long after that when he showed up at my “grandfather’s” room and gave me the “you know what” for upsetting his day! If Amelia had lost her cupcakes, my day would not have gone too well either.

Fritz learned to tolerate me and would sit near me as long as there was a wheelchair between us or if he could be in a higher position (ready to pounce if I looked at him the wrong way.)

 

Niles and I became friends. He would seek me out wherever I was and come stretch out nearby.

Niles & Schatzi Hanging Out in the Hallway

Niles & Schatzi Hanging Out in the Hallway

Therapy Cat

Niles Relaxing At The Foot of The Bed

He would even cuddle with my grandfather while I was in the room too.

Niles is a lot like me in the way he can just give a resident a “look” and get a treat. He will go to Louise’s room and look at the drawer where she keeps the treats and then look at her. Of course  he is rewarded for being so sweet. Some residents have bags of treats on their wheelchair.

 

I knew a certain staff member that carried treats too and I managed to get her to give me the treats meant for the cats.  I can be cute too! None of us are allowed in the dining room to visit the buffet table though. Both cats are conditioned to retiring at night to the activity room to watch over the birds and fish and African frog.

It seems to be the general consensus  at the facilities that I have visited in Maryland and Pennsylvania that cats are better suited to be residents at care facilities. Amy would bring her dog in for the day and take her home when she went home and that worked out well for everyone. Although the staff has discussed having a live-in dog, the cats continue to rule simply because they are easier to maintain.

Therapy Cat Likes Birds

Niles is Entertained by the Birds in the Aviary

 

However, having said that, Niles does have a $100 Wander alarm attached to his collar. He has managed to sneak outside the main building before and looks a lot like the stray cat that hangs around so now when he thinks about walking through the front door, the collar alarm sets off the door alarm and he can be prevented from exiting the building.

Niles is allowed to play in the inner courtyard all yearlong. He just goes to the inner glass door and sits until someone lets him in or out.  He gets his exercise chasing the visiting birds outside and both watch the birds in the aviary  and cage in the Activity Room.

Therapy Cat Bird Watches

Fritz Watches the Caged Birds

Niles and Fritz are considered special projects and fundraisers are held to maintain their needs. Amy Bruno and Theresa Ross are in charge of giving any medication and taking them for checkups to North Memorial Animal Hospital.

 

 

 

 

These brothers are two Inspiring Cats who are changing lives and we wish them both long, healthy lives filled with purring purpose.

If you have met any therapy cats, be sure to tell us about them in the comment section below…we would love to hear their story.

Fritz Monitors The Hallways

Fritz Monitors The Hallways

Living in the Moment,

Schatzi

Pet Companion To Animal Lover Amelia

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