CALIFORNIA – Amid all the pumps and IV machines, ventilators, and monitors at in the intensive care unit at UCSF Medical Center, a “purrfectly” trained professional is currently making the rounds: a 7-year-old tuxedo cat.
His full name is Duke Ellington Morris!
“When he first mentioned it, I was, like, ‘Is it a dog?’ Nope – a kitty!” giggled patient Susan Wuann.
“Oh, this cat’s phenomenal!”, shouted patient Marcy Harrison.
“It’s pretty exciting to meet him and see a cat in the hospital.” stated nurse David Goldberger.
For both the patients and staff alike, Duke is one cool cat.
“I was skeptical of the idea until I met Duke and was, like, this works for us,” stated Steven Koster, who facilitates the animal-assisted therapy program at UCSF with the San Francisco SPCA.
All the pets who are participating in the program are vetted and healthy.
“The staff who has been involved with the animal assisted therapy program are very careful to make sure the animals are very safe to be in the ICU,” explained UCSF Adult Critical Care Director Dr. Matt Aldrich
The goal is to facilitate the healing process, promote wellbeing, and share a little love.
Studies show pet therapy can reduce blood pressure, pain, stress, anxiety, and even depression.
And Duke is a very mellow cat.
“When you have this animal that comes in here like Duke … you can pet him, you can stroke him. He gives you a sense of being connected as a human again. So it’s really a wonderful thing,” said patient Andre Ross.
These days, Duke – a rescue cat – pretty much rules this ICU and his owners are happy to share him. “I think he rescued us. there’s no doubt in my mind,” stated owner Jennifer Morris. “He’s just a sweetheart.”
“It really does make you feel good,” Harrison went on to add.
“This is the cream on the top,” said Wuan.
And as for Duke, well. he just lapped it up!