Cats on Laps Shelter Animals Bring Senior Citizens Special Love

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
An animal shelter in Bangor, Maine is using adoptable cats to bring lots of furry love to seniors who aren’t able to have pets of their own.

The Bangor Humane Society has an innovative program called Cats on Laps. Lovable shelter cats are brought to visit residents in various nursing homes, warming laps and delighting the seniors. A feline-fabulous group of five–Merle, Snowflake, Lemmy, and kittens Munchkin and Midnight– visited the Phillips Strickland House, an Independent Senior Living in Bangor, Maine. Their canine buddy, Eddie, also joined them.

The house residents gathered together, gleefully watching as the cats explored, played in the residents’ laps and purred with affection. Resident Sally Berry, 73, loves when the cats come. Prior to moving to Phillips Strickland four years ago, Berry had cats and dogs living with her.

Related: Senior Canines Bring Love And Companionship To Senior Citizens

Fellow resident Diana Lindsay, 79 said that she’s always had pets and loves to see how the animals interact with the seniors. She likes watching the cats make their rounds in the room full of laughter.

Laurie Qualey, who is a human society volunteer and co-founded the Cats In Laps program a little over a year ago, says that connecting the lovable cats with seniors who love pets but can no longer have their own is just kind common sense. Qualey said that everyone loves it, and it helps the seniors remember good times while allowing the shelter animals to socialize as they wait for their forever homes.

Qualey also brings the program to Ross Manor, another independent living home, as well as a local rehabilitation center. She believes the bond between humans and animals is something special, especially because many of the residents had to give up the ability to have pets of their own when they moved into care facilities.

Related: Study: Seniors Who Walk Their Dogs Enjoy Better Physical Health

Interestingly, the Bangor Humane Society is experiencing a little bit of a unique problem–there are high rates of adoption these days (a great problem to have!) and so sometimes the volunteers will bring their own pets to engage with the seniors. While Qualey said that there is usually a large group of cats and kittens to choose from at the shelter, when there is not, they are happy to share their fur-love as a way to give back to their supportive community.

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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