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A Caregiving Cat Tells All

Gina Flores
Caregiver Advocate | Shield HealthCare
03/20/12  5:31 PM PST

“What Makes Caregiving Rewarding?”  by Lilly the Cat | Shield HealthCare 2011 Caregiver Story Contest

“Meow!’ I mean “Hello.” Your contest rules don’t exclude furry caregivers like me so I thought I would write to tell you why caregiving for my 87 year old person is so rewarding and show that even four legged furry animals can play a caregiver role. Like many finding themselves in the role of caregiver, I once was the recipient of care from my person. She took me in when I was an abandoned kitten and gave me a loving home. Even when she could not walk by herself and now, when she stays mostly in bed, she makes sure my needs are met and that I am well fed and cared for by her other caregivers. Yes, it is true, I can’t do the things the people caregivers do for her, those tasks of daily living I think they call them.

But I provide a unique caregiver role, that of the caretaker cat. What does a caretaker cat do and why is it so rewarding? Well, first, each morning, I make sure she wakes up by a certain time by softly meowing in her ears and patting her face. I supervise all the care my lady gets, I check out each nurse, doctor, technician, physical therapist, aide and others that come to our house and stand guard by her bed to make sure they do their jobs correctly. I monitor those funny colored “cat treat looking “ things they call pills that they give her. I make sure my lady gets good food by testing a sample from her every now and then. I can lower her blood pressure by cuddling up next to her and purring or by making her laugh when I grab her nurses’ ponytail when she turns her back on me. I give her physical therapy by asking her to pat me or scratch my ears and I sometimes demonstrate physical therapy moves for her, like the paw or leg lifts I do when cleaning my belly. I keep her warm in her bed by sleeping with her. I even stay with her when she wants to watch dog movies. I try to teach her people aides my method of water and soapless bathing so my lady doesn’t have to get wet in bed.

Yes, being a caretaker cat does take away time I could otherwise spend sleeping and eating, but now my life has a purpose, just as I give my lady a purpose in still knowing she has me for a loving companion who still needs her love in return. For all the caregivers out there, human and other kinds, we should pat ourselves on the back (or scratch ourselves under the chin) for all the work we do. And even though the job is tiring and hard sometimes, we should know that we are doing something very important and very rewarding, even more rewarding than catnapping all day or chasing lizards all night.

(via Debbie L.)

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