The Memory Care Cat


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I did something this week that I’ve been hoping to do for a while: I picked out a cat for our Memory Care Neighborhood at work.

The executive director of our community met me at the local animal shelter to help find the right cat. Immediately upon entering the “cat room,” I saw a sign for a cat named Fred Astaire (pictured above)

Fred Astaire was the perfect name for a cat that would be living in our Memory Care—all of our residents love the human Fred Astaire for his dancing. 

I brought Fred to work with me the next day. The residents took to him instantly.  Even though he was new to the environment and still adjusting, Fred Astaire seemed more than happy to meet some new friends.

Heather, one of my residents, absolutely loves animals—especially cats. She gasped as she came into the room and spotted Fred.

“Oh, aren’t you a beautiful cat?” she asked him. Heather picked him up and put him on her lap. “My mother used to bring cats home to us all the time when I was a kid,” she said. “We took such good care of them.”

Heather told us many of her memories about growing up. It was really more than I’d ever heard her talk. This cat was encouraging her to express herself in the most fantastic way.

When it came time for lunch, the caregivers tried to coax Heather out to the dining room. 

“No,” she said, smiling. “I think I’ll just stay here and keep the cat company.”

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Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of three published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

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