Posted on WJZ | 13 News
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By: Gigi Barnett
Workers at a Baltimore nursing care center say one of their residents has nine lives and a sixth sense. Gigi Barnett explains the uncanny ability of a cat that helps patients at the facility.
Every day at Keswick Multi-Care Center in North Baltimore, 4-year-old Eli makes his rounds. Nurses believe he knows which patients need him the most. “He seems to have a sixth sense,” said Susan Push, Director of Keswick Memory Care.
Keswick nurses adopted Eli from a shelter for abused and neglected cats nearly two years ago. The center is for patients with extreme memory loss like dementia and Alzheimer’s. It took Eli a while to adjust, but Push says there was a turnaround. “Little by little he became very, very attached and very friendly to residents who were at end-of-life,” said Push.
Eli would stay in their rooms, even sleep with them until they died. It happened several times. “We’ve had five people who’ve passed on this particular floor, and Eli was a sentinel. He stayed with those individuals and would actually cry if we didn’t let him in the room,” said Push.
Anna Fox and Eleanor Harding live at Keswick and their affection for Eli flows freely. “We try to follow his notions, make sure that every thing he wants he gets,” said Harding.
Nurses say that kind of care sparks memory in their patients. “Anna calls it her kitty. She doesn’t remember his name, but that’s her cat. She comes to me and says, ‘Where is my cat?’ We’ve had several residents who consider Eli their cat,” said Push.
Eli has his own room at Keswick, but he’s hardly ever there. Someone at the center always needs him. “He sleeps with some of them. They don’t have to be dying for him to do that,” said Push.
Eli is the only pet at Keswick for now. Nurses want a medium-sized dog for the patients who are on the first floor who are more active and mobile. They say that dog will keep the patients in shape.
Nurses say they watch which patients Eli gravitates toward and pay special attention to them, especially if those patients are in the last days of life.