Kimpton rescue cat becomes therapy pet for people with severe dementia

PUBLISHED: 07:09 04 December 2017 | UPDATED: 07:13 04 December 2017

Libby with resident Delia Cole. Picture: Blue Cross.

Libby with resident Delia Cole. Picture: Blue Cross.

Archant

A cat who arrived at a pet charity alone in the back of a taxi has gone on to become a therapy cat for elderly people with severe dementia.

When Libby turned up at the Blue Cross rehoming centre in Kimpton, she was checked over by a vet and it was discovered she was pregnant.

Once her five kittens were born, they all went to loving foster homes, but Libby remained at the centre.

Kirsten Findlay, a rehoming supervisor for Blue Cross Hertfordshire, said: “Libby was instantly a hit with the team. She was a very social and affectionate cat, so we knew it wouldn’t be long before she found a new home.”

The Blue Cross believes there are many benefits to older people having pets in their lives and knew Libby had the perfect temperment to offer companionship to the elderly.

As well as companionship, pets give older people a routine and a sense of purpose, and also relieve stress and increase endorphins through stroking.

Libby is now a retirement home’s therapy cat and helps with the socialisation of its elderly residents and provides some much-needed mutual affection.

Kirsten said: “She’s perfect for this because she’s so lovely and relaxed, she’s interactive but calming and affectionate, and she’s the type of cat that will just sit alongside people.”

Zoe Hiscox, manager of the St Albans care home Fosse House, said: “Libby being here makes it more like a home. She’s not all over everyone’s laps, but when the residents are sitting watching TV she’ll be sitting in the chair next to them. It’s comforting.

“Many of the residents here have got high levels of dementia, but for those who don’t remember her it doesn’t matter, because in the moment it gives them that good feeling.

“If they can’t walk or talk, it’s something for them to look at and engage with, and it can bring back to them fond memories of when they’ve had pets.

“Libby has also been known to comfort some of our really sick residents in their final days. It’s like she just knew.

“But she’s very intuitive, so if somebody isn’t keen on cats she will sense that and will stay away.”

For more about the Blue Cross and the pets currently needing new homes, visit www.bluecross.org.uk

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