You know there are benefits to dog ownership - especially since they drag you away from your computer to be walked every day. But did you know that cats are natural healers too? There is something about the tactile stimulation of warm fur and the rhythm of a contented purr that has a positive effect on blood pressure, pulse, and breathing frequency. The results of these tests are surprisingly similar to the body's condition after deep meditation.
[While I am writing this article, my hubby, Laurence, is in my "cat room" - setting up a large used crate that a friend gave me. I am fostering some felines from the Greater Sudbury Animal Shelter. His hobby is books, mine is cats. It works.]
Ah the Zen of cats - a study conducted in Texas found that nursing homes that allowed pets had lower medication costs than those that didn't. And cats may be the companion of choice for seniors. They are low maintenance - you don't have to walk them and scoop a back yard, and if you are gone for the better part of the day, they'll just sleep through it. But the return is high - you get greeted without getting bowled over, and cats are quite happy to let you sit, as long as you let them curl up beside you or on you.
[Hmmm. Laur is going in and out of his workshop - trying to find some pieces to supplement those that are missing from the crate package, and hammer off those that he can't see any reason for. I expect he is not feeling "in the zone" right now.]
The Arizona Humane Society has started an innovative program where they will provide mature fixed cats - free of charge - to senior citizens. It's called Partnering Animals with Seniors or P.A.W.S. The AHS adoptions coordinator explains, "Many senior citizens are ideal pet parents. They are retired and are home most of the day. They have plenty of love to share with an animal."
[My hubby who is "50+" now qualifies as a senior. I'm not sure how full his cat "love tank" is right now. Laurence has given up on the crate, and its intended occupant is currently sitting on Laur's shoulders. I think the pirate-parrot look is cute - but Laurence objects to the feline talons.]
Hearing about this got the hamster wheel in my head turning... Why couldn't there be a "Free Cats for Seniors" program in Sudbury. A volunteer (moi) could keep a list of cats needing a home, and of seniors or people on a fixed income who are looking for a cat. There has to be guidelines. Cats on the list must be spayed or neutered, healthy and friendly. Seniors (or disabled people) must agree to provide a long-term loving home and vet care as needed. I know I can count on the All Peoples United Church women's group to donate some home-made cat toys.
[My senior half notes that dogs are mentioned 14 times in the Bible, but domestic cats are not mentioned even once. I note that there are hundreds of books dedicated to "church cats," but none to church dogs.]
If you are interested in a "Free Cats for Seniors" program - by that I mean you have a fixed, friendly cat to list or you are looking for a friendly moggy - you are welcome to call me at 522-5126. Be sure to leave a message. [My hubby requests that you be sure to ask for "Parrot the Cat."]
Jan Carrie Steven, MA, RSW, is Chaplain, Volunteer, Counselor and Small Business Person.
Visit her websites and columns:
Jan has a passion for small churches, shelter pets, counseling or visiting with lonely people, and her arts, books, crafts and delights shop called "Small Things."
Her mission statement and store name is borrowed from Mother Teresa who said: "We can do no great things. Only small things with great love."
Jan is a wife to one and mother to five.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org