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8th March 2024

The positive bond between cats and humans is being cemented in a pioneering project to benefit mental health patients and cats in need.

Cats Protection Northampton Branch has built a foster pen in the extensive grounds of Broomhill Hospital, a specialist mental health hospital. 

The pen will play host to cats waiting to be adopted, who will be cared for by patients trained and supported in how to look after their feline fosters.

The partnership benefits Cats Protection Northampton Branch as it provides extra fostering capacity, while offering tailored Occupational Therapy to Broomhill patients who are given a responsible and motivational role as part of a rehabilitation programme.   

Kate Lines, Senior Occupational Therapist, who spearheaded this project said: “This fostering programme was first mooted when we rehomed a cat, Aurora, at Broomhill last summer. Aurora is cared for by a patient who found this experience had a positive impact on her mental health and helped build her confidence. We wanted to build on these positives. 

“Cats Protection was open to partnership working, expanding on this initial work with patients as Assistant Fosterers. Work began to install a Cat Pen to provide a welcoming safe space for cats or kittens while they waited for their new homes. The role of supporting a cat in their recovery journey to moving on, mirrors the patient’s own recovery journey.

“This dovetails with our broader use of animal therapy within the setting. And importantly will enable patients who love and miss having animals to be able to interact with them again.”

The first residents of the Broomhill pen are now settling in nicely and getting used to their new surroundings. Two-year-old Rue and her son Buddy, one, are extremely close so will be adopted together once they are signed off as fit to home. 

Cats Protection Operations Manager Josh Ferron said: “This is a unique partnership for Cats Protection, and while getting to this point has involved input from a lot of people, everyone has been so committed to the project. To see it get off the ground is already a rewarding experience for all involved.

“To be part of the rehabilitation journey for patients while also increasing capacity for the branch to bring in and help more cats really is an epic win-win and we look forward to nurturing and building this collaboration.” 

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