Peaches and Turtle weighed just seven ounces apiece when they arrived at the Pima Animal Care Center in mid-October. Very young and extremely vulnerable, the kittens needed to be bottle fed and constantly attended to, if they were going to survive.
Luckily for these cuties, Peaches and Turtle became the first participants in a brand new program that matches up at-risk shelter kittens with residents of a local memory care center.
“Without a foster, these kittens would haven’t made it,” says Karen Hollish, spokesperson for the Tuscon-area shelter. “And not only are they surviving, they are thriving.”
Rebecca Hamilton, Catalina Springs Memory Care’s health service director, has fostered shelter kittens for years now — and knows that finding foster homes for newborns is essential to saving their lives.
She brought the idea of a partnership to both the shelter, and to the memory care center’s board members. Both institutions recognized its big potential.
The kittens would be fed, loved, and well-socialized (memory care center staff ensured the kittens never missed a feeding).
The folks caring for these little ones also had a whole lot to gain.
“There are skills, emotions and needs that do not just leave a person with Dementia or Alzheimers,” Catalina Springs Memory Care executive director Sharon Mercer said in a statement. “The desire to give love and receive love remains. The kittens have given us the opportunity to nurture this human condition that lies in each and every one of our residents.”
Hollish tells Shelter Me she’d love to see other shelters develop programs with memory care centers, since this partnership is already such a hit — and is already open to expansion.
“These residents are immediately wonderful caretakers for the pets,” she says.
The proof’s in the purring: Peaches’ and Turtle’s weights have already doubled, since they joined the Catalina Springs Memory Care crew. Once they get a few more ounces on them, they will be spayed, and then be ready to go on to their permanent homes.
For one of the kittens, that means going home with a memory care center nurse, who’s already put in an adoption application. The other won’t have any trouble getting adopted, either, Hollish reckons.
“Because of all the attention they get, Peaches and Turtle are very well socialized,” she says. “This partnership is an amazing way to enrich the lives of the memory care center’s residents while saving the lives of our community’s most vulnerable pets.”
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