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Pandemic pet: communal cat brings comfort for Calgary seniors

Click to play video: 'Pandemic pet: communal cat brings comfort for some Calgary seniors' Pandemic pet: communal cat brings comfort for some Calgary seniors
WATCH: Getting a pandemic pet is helping a lot of Canadians get through the COVID-19 crisis. And as Gil Tucker shows, dozens of Calgarians are now getting a big boost thanks to one furry little friend. – May 20, 2021

Bernie Boudens was enjoying a visit Thursday with her new feline friend Lily.

“She loves to be petted,” Boudens said. “To be able to come down here every day and play with her is great.”

Boudens is a resident at the Silvera for Seniors – Valleyview supportive living building in southeast Calgary.

Staff there have put in a new custom-built “cat room” in which residents can visit with Lily, who has become a “pandemic pet” for dozens of seniors to share.

Read more: How ‘pandemic pets’ are helping us cope with coronavirus stress

“Residents have been asking for a cat specifically, and pet companionship is so great for mental health,” Silvera’s Taylor Stewart said. “With COVID(-19) and all the restrictions, it felt like the perfect time to bring a cat here.

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“With physical touch being absent for a lot of the older adults here, the benefits of just having that touch has been immense.”

Connecting with Lily has provided a big boost for the seniors after months of COVID-19 restrictions limiting visitors.

“It was hard,” Boudens said. “I like seeing my daughter and it was hard not to be able to see her.”

Lily is at the building as part of a partnership with the Calgary Humane Society. She’ll soon make way for a succession of other guests in the cat room.

Read more: Cat, kitten adoptions surge amid COVID-19 pandemic

“We have set up a foster program, so they come to live with us a little bit until they get adopted,” Stewart said.

“Lily is so affectionate and wonderful — it has just uplifted spirits through this very, very hard year.”

Residents of the building are looking forward to welcoming their next feline friend next month.

In the meantime, they’re making the most of every minute spent with Lily.

“She gives me joy, gives me calmness — she relaxes me,” Boudens said.

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“Just to have her here is a blessing.”

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