Lori Irby works at a retirement center in southern California and she accidentally stumbled upon an incredible idea for the residents there: kitten therapy! Irby was fostering kittens through the ASPCA and brought them in to work since they need to be fed so frequently. Once the residents learned of their presence, they became the attraction of the whole facility! By all accounts, weekly kitten therapy is drastically improving residents’ moods and wellbeing. Residents and their families report that the seniors there are experiencing relief from depression and PTSD just by playing with kittens once a week! Even those individuals who’ve been showing signs of isolation and withdrawal are starting to come out of their rooms and smile again, wanting to participate in order to get some kitty-cat cuddle time.
Seniors have been hit harder by this pandemic than any other community. They have lost more people and been more isolated than many of us. But people need connection with other living beings. Additionally, many animals like these kittens need care. Without their mama cats around, these baby beings need regular looking after in order to get the food, water, and warmth they need to live and thrive. But getting all that from just one human isn’t realistic. Many animal shelters in the U.S. simply do not have enough staff, money, or physical space to house and care for all the baby animals that come through their doors.
But seniors (and a Medicaid program to bring kittens and puppies to state-run retirement centers) could help. That’s why we are asking the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to allow Medicaid to help fund kitten therapy programs for people residing in long term care. Will you sign the petition to show them how many people love this idea?