June 21st, 2024

Feline friends to visit businesses with new SPCA wellness program

By ANNA SMITH on June 1, 2024.

The Medicine Hat SPCA is offering a free program that would see cats and kittens brought out to businesses and organizations in an effort to boost morale and give the animals a chance to get a change of scenery.--NEWS FILE PHOTO

asmith@medicinehatnews.com

Looking to enhance people’s well-being with the therapeutic benefits of animal visits, the Medicine Hat SPCA is bringing feline friends to businesses and organizations with a new program.

The program in question, Whiskers and Wellness, is all thanks to a grant from ConnectFirst Credit Union, said Morgan Widmer, fund development and communications manager with the Medicine Hat SPCA.

“The goal is to create a stress relieving and uplifting atmosphere for the people attending Whiskers and Wellness,” said Widmer. “Essentially, a business will reach out to us. For example, we’ve done a couple of care homes already, where we’ve gotten cats in. And residents get to just hang out with them for an hour, interact with them.”

The shelter provides toys and treats for participants, allowing them to take the time to play with the visiting animals, which currently consists of adoptable cats and kittens from the shelter.

A change of scenery is also beneficial for the cats, said Widmer, as it helps socialize young kittens to a greater variety of people, and the attention is positive enrichment for cats of any age as they travel to various locations.

The program has been a success in several care homes, as well as Medicine Hat College, said Widmer.

“It’s just a great way for our animals to get out and socialize. Get more eyes on the animals, but also, we know that animals can be very beneficial and therapeutic for mental health and wellbeing. So it just offers that opportunity if an organization is wanting to bring that in,” said Widmer.

There is no cost to the program thanks to the grant, and there is no restriction as to what kinds of organizations or businesses can participate, though they are aiming to only bring the animals out a few times a month, so as to not over-stress them with travel.

One thing they do hope may come of the program is adoptions, as people are given the chance to meet animals who may not have time to come into the shelter.

“We always bring a little write-up of the cats that we’re bringing,” said Widmer. “You can read their bio, and if a participant is attending, and they think a cat would be a great fit for my family or for someone that they know, then we get that word of mouth, too.”

Anyone interested in arranging a session with feline companions is encouraged to email marketing@medhatspca.ca to book a time.

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