Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECHONEWS to 80360, or email us Click here for details »
Southend Hospital gets first cat as therapy for stroke patients
10:46am Monday 23rd December 2013 in Southend
A CAT named Button is helping stroke patients get better at Southend Hospital under a scheme known as Pets as Therapy.
Button, a six-year-old birman, is Southend’s first cat to join the Pets as Therapy team at the hospital, which already boasts several dogs.
She now regular visits recovering stroke patients, bringing comfort and joy where she goes.
Pets as Therapy animals are known to help stroke patients’ recovery, as petting them can stimulate motor skills and can even prompt people silenced by a stroke to attempt to talk again.
Button’s owner, Sue Hatcher, 48, was already a volunteer at the stroke unit and was keen to do more to help both the patients and staff.
Sue said: “I wanted to help the unit, because it was absolutely fantastic in treating my late father, when he had a stroke. Although I have several cats, Button is an ideal therapy cat, because she is so tranquil and calm.
"People say animals can sense illness and that seems to be true with Button.
“She can definitely tell when she is in the ward with patients.”
Button is a member of a fairly exclusive club. Pets as Therapy currently has about 5,000 dogs which go into hospitals across the country – but only about 100 cats.
Button visited the stroke ward on Wednesday when the Echo was there and she was clearly a hit with the patients.
Cliff Messiter, 73, said: “It’s such a sweet thing to have the animals on the ward. I absolutely adore cats, and it was lovely to have a cuddle with Button.”
Stoke matron Suzanne Feasey welcomes the regular Pets as Therapy visitors and said she had already seen the good Button’s presence was doing.
She said: “We had a little old lady here the other day who held Button and she kept saying ‘lovely, lovely’. She hadn’t said a word inweeks.”
Comments are closed on this article.