Memory Loss Patients Find Joy in Nursing Ailing Kittens Back to Health

It might be the world’s sweetest collaboration to date.


In what might be the most adorable partnership ever, seniors at the Catalina Springs Memory Care center in Oro Valley, Arizona, are fostering tiny ailing kittens from the nearby Pima Animal Care Center.

Rebecca Hamilton, the facility’s health services director and a frequent foster parent for kittens, came up with the idea.

“This is extremely labor intensive, but only for a short period of time,” Hamilton told ABC News. “But for that period of time, it is very difficult to find fosters to take these kittens.”

In the weeks before kittens are available for adoption, they require bottle feedings every two hours, as well as attention and love. Residents are happy to give both.

“To some it may seem peculiar at first: Residents who are in need of around-the-clock care themselves, given the task to care for these young kittens,” Catalina Springs Memory Care executive director Sharon Mercer, told the Pima County website. “But there are skills, emotions, and needs that do not just leave a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s. The desire to give love and receive love remains.”

Two of the kittens, Peaches and Turtle, arrived at PCC on October 14, weighing just 7 ounces each. With residents’ care, the kittens’ weights have doubled. Soon they’ll be ready for adoption.

Caring for the kittens benefits the seniors—most of whom struggle with memory loss and Alzheimer’s—as well.

“Many memories have started to resurface just by the act of caring for these babies,” Hamilton told ABC News. “People began to bring up long-forgotten memories of a cat or a dog they had as a child.”

Going from the looks on residents’ faces, they’re happy for the partnership.

“The kittens have given us the opportunity to nurture this human condition that lies in each and every one of our residents,” says Mercer.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest