A cat walks into a hospital and stays – for 19 years. His name was Alfie and the hospital is the Burwood Spinal Unit in Christchurch. He was recently euthanized because he had kidney failure. He must have been about 21 years old because he was about 2 years old when he arrived.
Alfie was regarded as an asset at the unit. He was regarded as an unpaid employee almost. He helped a lot of people feel better. That counts for a lot when you are very ill. Alfie appears to have been aware of people’s needs and focused on the most poorly
Not everyone likes cats (most do though) so I have to praise to the hilt the clinical director of the unit, Dr Rick Acland, who believes, and has proved, that animals have a beneficial effect on patients. He appears to have stood by Alfie and made sure he stayed.
There must have been a discussion at some time about Alfie. It is not that usual for a stray cat to walk into a hospital and be allowed to stay. Some people think cats present a health hazard. I cannot image a cat walking into a National Health Service (NHS) hospital in the UK and being invited to stay. No chance. I hope some administrators read this page.
Noelene Saunderson (a poet and all round decent woman) who wrote about Alfie on the all-creatures.org website says:
“We are trying to do our best to help the precious animals, and they, in so many ways, are helping us.”
There is an overwhelming need for people in general to improve their relationship with all animals. In many countries, developed or not, there is too much animal abuse and a lack of knowledge. There is an horrendously profitable and burgeoning international trade in wild animals. It is almost all under the radar but worth $10bn.
Alfie reminds us how companion animals can contribute so effectively to our lives. People who dislike cats should take that onboard and open their minds to an acceptance of cats. Often a dislike for cats is solely due to a lack of understanding. Dare I say it: ignorance? There is a lot of it about when it comes to animals of any species.
Alfie was a beautiful mackerel tabby with a little bit of white and a dense coat. Rest in peace Alfie. You were great. Oscar was another walk in therapy cat.
My thanks to Ruth aka Kattaddorra for telling me about Alfie.