Social hour a pleasure for both kittens and admirers

What happens when you mix kittens and the residents of Providence Alaska's assisted living facility, Horizon House? You get the Kitten Social Hour!

Kitten Social Hour had a humble beginning. An Anchorage Animal Care and Control (AACC) kitten foster mom, who also provides hospice care primarily to our homeless community was caring for a woman who often mentioned how much she missed her cat. Debbie asked AACC staff if she could bring one of her foster kittens to visit her client and we agreed it would be a good thing to do. After the visit, Debbie told us how much it meant to this woman to hold a kitten and she suggested we think about an ongoing program...and so Kitten Social Hour was born.

AACC reached out to Horizon House about bringing foster kittens, age 6 to 8 weeks, to visit with the residents. The program would provide cat-loving residents with an opportunity to interact with a kitten and would help the kittens get used to new environments and new people. The activity coordinator at Horizon House was thrilled with this request and was ready to start as soon as we had kittens to bring.

Our first kittens, a litter of seven, were strolled (literally – they were all in a pet stroller) into a packed room on April 25. Even with seven kittens we couldn't keep up with the requests to hold one. The kittens went from lap to lap, snuggling, cuddling, purring and finally, sleeping. The residents talked with us about cats and other pets they had loved as they held a kitten and stroked its soft fur.

Just a week later the kittens went back for a second visit but this time they had grown enough that it took two strollers to get them in. As the residents arrived, many of them asked for the kitten they had bonded with last week. Walter wanted to hold Buttercup and Kat wanted to hold Lion. The kittens were a bit more rambunctious on this visit so they were set up in a playpen and residents were given wand toys to play with the kittens. After playtime, many were happy to snuggle into a lap for a kitten nap. But this was also this litter's last visit as they were returning to AACC to be placed up for adoption. So the goodbye that week was bittersweet.

With this highly successful debut, Kitten Social Hour is now an ongoing program at AACC. Whenever there are foster kittens who can be brought to Horizon House we schedule a Social Hour with the activity coordinator and then look forward to seeing those kittens work their magic again, bringing smiles to the faces of those who visit with them.

Laura Atwood is the public relations coordinator for the Anchorage Animal Care and Control.

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