In the previous blog we discussed the concept of what goes into our process for choosing to rescue a cat, especially a cat that is destined to be therapeutic in some way. In this blog we would like to introduce you to one of the ways we provide therapy to the community – a program which extends our rescue to those who cannot have a pet of their own but who want (and often need) the love and comfort that our cats bring. Sadly for many individuals who had no choice but to move into a nursing home, their own personal pets had to go to other family members or, even worse, had to be placed in an animal shelter when they moved into the facility. This undoubtedly leaves a giant void in their hearts. For many, the love and comfort of their pets was a necessary part of their health and happiness – both mentally and physically. Fine motor skills – when petting or playing with a cat – keep muscles in hands and arms active, improving blood flow and coordination. Emotional well-being – the purr, cuddle and just company of a cat – keeps them from feeling unloved and lonely. Cats provide a huge list of health benefits, from lowering blood pressure to relieving stress, to reducing cholesterol – all of which improves mental and physical health.
For this reason, “Kitty Klub” was established in 2018 at the River Glen Nursing Home in Southbury, CT. This was the first RnR program to bring cats/kittens for therapy into a nursing home environment. Residents were seeking an alternative activity where they could interact with pets and bring some much needed snuggles into their lives. Little did we know, just how popular this program would become and how much of an impact it had for many of these wonderful seniors. Even on our first visit (video clip can be seen here – https://www.facebook.com/RiverGlenHealthCareCenter/videos/398076304345183/), residents were thrilled to hold and snuggle and play with our kitties – both young and old. Many chatted with our furry friends and told them about their own cats in the past, reliving wonderful memories and recounting them to staff and volunteers. The connection the cats brought was not just between resident and cat, but brought a new dimension between resident and their daily caregivers – the latter now had a commonality of love of a pet (past and present) and created dialogue between some that had been limited in the past. Of course the program was very popular and the residents soon established “Kitty Klub” with a president and members who organized future sessions and who now felt together in their love for cats. It gives them something to look forward to and to discuss with others, including family members who visit (and now sometimes even partake during Kitty Klub sessions).
After the success of this flagship program, our nursing home kitty therapy programs have expanded to include several more facilities in CT and NY, including The New Jewish Home in Mamaroneck, Mary Knolls Nursing Home (nuns) and Cedar Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Ossining, and Maplewood Senior Living in Newtown CT. Each of these facilities brings new faces and new stories and furthers our determination to bring more cat love and comfort to those in need – even if it just makes one person smile. Live. Love. Rock. Adopt
- Juli Cialone, Founder, Executive Director