Animals are perfect for brightening up our moods when we need it most. They are very intuitive and sometimes it seems like our companions know how we are feeling before we even do – and they always make everything seem 100 times better. While there is no denying that our pets make our lives better, for senior citizens, in particular, sometimes an animal is exactly what the doctor ordered. From psychological benefits such as lowering anxiety to social benefits of getting out of the house for a walk, companion animals really do positively impact health for seniors. Knowing this … and considering there are over 7.6 million homeless animals that need love and attention in shelters, the idea to pair up shelter animals with seniors seems pretty genius. Well, that’s exactly what Rebecca Hamilton thought, and it has resulted in the sweetest partnership ever.

Hamilton is the health service director for Catalina Springs, a senior living center in Oro Valley, Arizona, and she is also a dedicated animal foster parent. After her own experience fostering kittens, she noted a golden opportunity to help both senior citizens and baby cats. Young kittens have a very low chance of survival because they need round the clock care and feeding, something Catalina Springs residents are more than happy to provide. Hamilton approached the Pima Animal Care Center (PACC) and proposed a partnership, the senior citizen residents would provide care for the kittens while receiving lots of cuddles and cuteness. A win/win!

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Peaches and Turtle were the first kittens to head over to Catalina Springs to launch the program. The two have DOUBLED in weight thanks to the care of the residents. 

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Kitten play time! Interacting with animals has proven to help senior citizens in both their physical and mental health by helping boost their mood, increasing activity, and creating a routine.

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 A study from Pets Are Wonderful Support found, “Recently widowed women who owned pets experienced significantly fewer symptoms of physical and psychological disease and reported lower medication use than widows who did not own pets.”

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Robert Tomlin loves spending time with Peaches. 

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Alexander “Jerry” Petrie spends some quality time with Turtle. 

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John Claude Collinet  is feeding Turtle, who will now grow up strong and healthy thanks to the residents of Catalina Springs. 

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“Without a foster, these kittens would haven’t made it,” said Karen Hollish, spokesperson for PACC. “And not only are they surviving, they are thriving.” Last year PACC took in more than 2,100 kittens and if it wasn’t for creative initiatives like this one, they wouldn’t be able to achieve their goals.

Peaches and Turtle will soon be taken back to PACC where they will be spayed and adopted. One of the nurses at Catalina Springs fell so much in love with Peaches and Turtle, they will hopefully be taking both of them home. Know someone who needs a pick me up? Share this post with them and put a smile on their face!

Image Source: Pima Animal Care