What A Meowvelous Program! Memory Care Center Residents And At-Risk Shelter Kittens Make The Purr-Fect Partners

Photo credit: Pima Animal Care Center

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.”

Alexander “Jerry” Petrie with Turtle. Photo credit: Pima Animal Care Center
Alexander “Jerry” Petrie with Turtle . Photo credit: Pima Animal Care Center

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.

Photo credit: Pima Animal Care Center
Photo credit: Pima Animal Care Center

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.”

Marion Jane Nelson with Peaches. Photo credit: Pima Animal Care Center
Marion Jane Nelson with Peaches. Photo credit: Pima Animal Care Center

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.

Thelma Bradfield, age 97, feeds Peaches. Photo credit: Pima Animal Care Center
Thelma Bradfield, age 97, feeds Peaches. Photo credit: Pima Animal Care Center

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.”

Get in touch at aringreenwood@gmail.com if you have an animal story to share!


Arin Greenwood

Arin Greenwood is an animal writer based in St. Petersburg, Florida. Previously, she was animal welfare editor at The Huffington Post. Arin is a former lawyer (J.D. from Columbia Law School, member of the New York Bar), life long animal lover, pit bull advocate, and devoted fan of cats and dogs who run for public office.

Her first novel, Tropical Depression — based on her five-odd, sometimes very odd, years living on a small island near Guam — was published by teeny indie publisher Back Porch Books in 2011. Her second book, a comic young adult mystery called Save The Enemy, was published by Soho Teen in November 2013. Hello From Dog Island!, Arin’s third book, will be published by Soho Teen in 2018.

Know a shelter with a great, innovative program? Have another animal story to share? Get in touch at aringreenwood@gmail.com!


  1. Bridget Vest says:

    I love this idea. My mom lives in a place where this would be a great boon for the residents. People always respond to animals; Alzheimer’s or not, people feel a connection with them and love to bestow their love onto someone who needs them — it’s good for both human and animal. And what a difference it makes — look at the smiles!

  2. Nancy Quarles says:

    A win, win situation for sure. The need to give love and receive it never leaves us. Though sometimes clouded over, it is always there; no matter how young or old, in all creatures. My cat family reminds this old girl of that everyday.

  3. Ann Allen says:

    This is a wonderful idea ! May God bless………..

  4. Rosalie says:

    That is great i wish that all the shelters would do that it benefits not just the pets but also the humans thete is so much love both ways please expand this thank you

  5. Debbie Bell says:

    What a wonderful opportunity for both pets and people. Thank you for featuring this story.

  6. Yvonne Johnson says:


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