Oreo was a stray cat in search of a new home. One day, she showed up at St. Augustine Health Ministries, a retirement home in Cleveland, Ohio. Every day, she hung around the building, befriending the residents who were out for walks. Oreo had decided this was her new home and was going to make herself useful.
The receptionist Carmen Delgado found Oreo sitting at the check-in desk one day, and that's when the she knew Oreo had a special job to fill. "She's like the family here. She helps the residents, she helps the employees, and we just love her," Carmen said.
She continues: “I’m always getting pictures, even on the weekends or at night that the staff are taking. ‘Oh look, Oreo is at the reception desk, answering the phone, because it’s after hours’, or ‘she’s sitting on a bench with a resident who’s waiting for her ride.'”
Many of the nursing home's residents owned pets in the past, and they were excited to have a kitty to keep them company. "[Oreo] brings a lot of laughter, smiles, those feelings of home," said director of advancement Dana Carns.
The special black and white cat has become the home's new live-in resident. Her gentle and friendly personalty has made her the ideal companion for elderly folks. In exchange, Oreo gets plenty of pets and cuddles.
“Oreo is not a ‘lap cat’ but likes to be close,” Carns said. “She loves to have her head scratched. Residents, staff and the children from our early learning center, look for Oreo. She is most often the greeter.”
The calming kitty's presence in the retirement home helps the aging residents as well as those recovering from strokes or brain injuries. She is a true therapy pet who is often the reason residents will come to the common area and socialize. Carns says that Oreo gives "residents something to look for, to care about, to love on."
“I’m not sure if Oreo was in need of us, or we were in need of Oreo,” Carns said. “But she’s a great addition to our family.” We couldn't agree more.
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