Meows for Military program helps hospitalized veterans find comfort

Meows for Military comforts veterans in their final days

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - The Hermitage Cat Shelter in Tucson has found a possibly purr-fect way to comfort veterans in their final days.

Stephanie Malone has a newfound love for cats. She's an employee at the VA hospital in Tucson, who works with hospice patients.

"It's kind of magical seeing the veterans really sit with these cats and pet them. Just to see the calm come across their face," Malone said.

This program is called 'Meows for Military.'

Meows for Military (Source: KOLD News 13)
Meows for Military (Source: KOLD News 13)

Every Thursday a different cat heads to the hospital for a visit to spread love to veterans in their final days. For many of them, it reminds them of pets they may have at home or once had.

Malone sees the change it makes in their mood firsthand. She said it makes an impact on staff there, too.

"It helps us as staff because hospice care is all about making sure that whatever amount of days we have left are good," she said.

After seeing the program in action - she adopted one of the cat 'ambassadors' herself.

Her cat 'Taco' has already made a loving difference for her own family.

"My son loves him. That's his best friend as he says. I really appreciate the purring and the different kind of love you get from a cat," said Malone.

Her personal story is a testament to the kind of love the vets feel within the VA hospital walls.

Hermitage Shelter's Executive Director Karen Baden is a veteran herself.

"There's a lot of different things you go through as a military active or reserve military person. Having an animal there can make a difference," said Baden.

It's why the program was introduced and why it will stay to make every last moment memorable.

The Meows for Military program has helped more than 500 veterans so far.

The Hermitage Cat Shelter looks forward to helping even more.

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