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- Cats must have suitable temperament and behavior. This includes being friendly, gentle, sociable, receptive to petting and hugging, and content sitting for a length of time on a resident’s lap or beside them on the bed. Cats also need to be calm around the objects, noises, and general environment of the facility which includes wheel chairs, walkers, canes, housekeeping carts, vacuum and floor cleaners, odors, and food that may be left out. Cats also need to be comfortable with the vocalizations and strange or irregular movements of the residents.
- Cats must be in good health. It should be on a wellness program with a veterinarian and current on all immunizations. Facilities should keep copies of these records on file for each visiting cat and update them as necessary.
- Cats must be clean and well groomed. This includes bathing within 24 hours of the visit, making sure nails are trimmed short and teeth brushed, and also making sure the cat is free of fleas and ticks. Cats should not have flea collars, flea powders, or chemicals on their coats during visits.
- If possible, cats should be registered with the Delta Society’s Pet Partner program.
- Kittens under one year of age SHOULD NOT VISIT. This is due to their small size, fragility, and zoonotic reasons.
- Have the handler transport the cat in a carrier or basket and place a towel or blanket on the resident’s lap or bed to minimize scratching and shedding.
- Cats should wear a figure eight harness and leash. This may be removed only under close supervision of the handler and in a safe room where the cat cannot get lodged in any furniture or equipment. Ask Paula Kamrath about the grand piano story!