Alfie: Self-appointed Therapy Cat

Alfie therapy cat
Alfie therapy cat
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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 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.

7 thoughts on “Alfie: Self-appointed Therapy Cat”

  1. I totally agree with Marc that its preferable to have some companion animal in “Old Age Homes”.Aged people confined to a hospital or “Old Age Homes” are confined indoors and hence a pet animal, either a cat or dog would drive away the loneliness of confinement. As a bachelor at home with help from my house-keeper Sabina find the companionship of my pets hilarious and they really make my house lively . They are a topic of discussion keeping me busy on a few websites, most notably “P.O.C”. Alfie is similar to Oscar in the fact that both these cats made a hospital their home. Oscar had the unique bizarre ability of predicting a patients death and hence became World famous .As for Alfie, he must have illuminated the dreary sad lives of numerous patients as medical science has confirmed that “Pet Therapy” is a fact of medical science.I personally feel that hospitals and old age homes should maintain a pet in their premises for the benefit of the patients.Another method if unable to maintain a pet on the premises would be of having pets visiting the hospital or old age home with their handlers, a social service that can be provided by pet owners.

  2. R.I.P Alfie
    I thought his story was so nice it was worth sending to Michael to share.
    I get the All Creatures newsletter every week Marc, it’s quite a religious web site but has some wonderful stories and poems etc.

    You are right about UK hospitals Michael, some won’t even allow cats to live in the grounds. It’s sad really because it’s well known that cats can aid the recovery of ill people.

  3. If I was stuck in hospital or an old people’s home I would be ok if there were cats. I am sure many people who are ill of very old have the time to appreciate the company of a cat. It’s fine if they dont want the cat but it would be nice if they at least had the opportunity to try it out. I am sure there would be alot more homes for cats and happy people if it were an idea that was put into the realm of being possible and useful with positivie theraputic value.

    Great story – well found Ruth and well written Michael, as always. He seems like a big cat doesn’t he. He looks lovely. Must be very social with all those new people going in and out. What a great cat. Perhaps they will find a new cat to fill his place – I’m sure he is missed greatly.


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