Angel first showed up at PALS (Protecting Animal Life Society), pregnant and homeless. The Society took her in, and was soon won over by her gentle and easygoing demeanour. After her kittens had grow up enough and found cat boxes of their own, Angel was spayed and set up a trial residence at Minto. Some studies have suggested that pets can make a significant difference in the emotional health of people living in care facilities, and the staff at Minto decided to test the theory.
Florence Bargery from PALS gave the Arrow Lakes News an update on the adoption, and it sounds like it’s going swimmingly.
“There’s nothing more therapeutic than a little animal,” suggested Bargery.
“The rewards are huge: unconditional love and companionship,” she said, “things we’re all looking for.”
Angel is now a permanent resident, and when I visited the centre, she was comfortably sprawled in the middle of the hallway just like she owned the place. A pretty and gregarious creature, she was immediately interested when I came through the locked doors. Although not the kind to snuggle, apparently, she was happy to be petted and fussed about.
Minto House is currently home to 15 residents, most of whom are from the immediate area, but not all. Due to a reworking of how care residencies are filled, some people find themselves passing time here in Nakusp rather than their hometown, waiting for a place there to open up.
“The whole system changed,” Barb Fahlman. The system is no longer to wait to go to the facility you choose, but rather to the place with the first available space. Now, there are people coming to stay in the Minto from Grand Forks.”
The increased distance can make family visits very rare.
“When you’re in your eighties or nineties, your kids aren’t young any more,” Fahlman said, and when the kids are in their sixties or seventies themselves, they don’t want to be driving for hours on winter roads.
Having a cat in the House might ease the loneliness of residents who feel the separation from their family keenly, especially over the holidays.
From the Christmas-treed common area I was taken for a tour of the facility, which has spacious private rooms with lifts in many of them. Each room had a great big window, which often afforded a view of nature in action.
The other day, Fahlman told me, they were treated to a coyote show as he darted along the back fence. Hearing that, I assumed that Angel is an inside cat. And, frankly, unless she has a swipe card to open the doors, and an opposable thumb, she’s not going anywhere.
The transition from visitor to resident has been months-long for Angel, which is the way it should be, Bargery said.
She also recommends that people wanting to give or get a pet for Christmas wait until after the hectic holiday season. Anyone wanting to introduce a pet into the home is encouraged to give a picture, then bring the animal into the home when the house is quieter.
“Pets aren’t spontaneous presents,” reminded Bargery, and encourages people to do their research before getting a pet, finding a good match of temperments.
“If you’re a couch potato, don’t get a border collie,” she mentioned as an example. Often, it is the mismatch of energy levels and commitment levels that is the reason behind many dogs ending up in shelters.
Cats make up a high percentage of shelter seekers, which Bargery believes is due to a common attitude that pets are commodities to be disposed of, rather than living beings needing care.
“People move away and abandon cats,” she noted, a common phenomenon.
Angel has been lucky enough to find a permanent home, one where she can now enrich lives.