By Kirra Grimes
THE newest resident of Korumburra’s Carinya Lodge is without a doubt their most popular yet.
Her cuddles are unrivalled; her energy is infectious; her many quirks provide endless entertainment.
She’s got the run of the place, roaming the halls and popping in and out of her fellow residents’ rooms as she pleases.
Her favourite food is salmon and she’ll never say no to a game.
She’s certainly got the place talking.
So, who is she?
She’s Maple – an eight-month-old domestic short haired cat, recently adopted from South Gippsland Animal Aid, desexed at the Korumburra Vets and taken into the loving care of the community that calls Carinya home.
Arriving at the residential aged care facility earlier this month, Maple’s had no trouble settling in, receiving a warm welcome from its 43 residents and having her every need looked after by the whole team of staff, who take turns feeding and supervising her (with these responsibilities to be eventually extended to residents who wish to take part).
The new addition has instantly brought a smile to many faces, says executive assistant Sarah Jackson, with residents delighting in Maple’s company and affection, and the memories she’s stirred.
“She’s definitely been well received,” Sarah said.
“She brings so much joy when she’s out playing or sitting on people’s laps.
“They start reminiscing about other cats and pets they’ve had in the past. It’s been a really lovely atmosphere since she’s been around.”
The idea to adopt Maple came from a ‘wall of inspiration’ created by residents and staff earlier this year.
Introducing a pet or pet therapy emerged as a popular idea when gathering suggestions on ways to improve the facility, Sarah said.
“We did a lot of research before going into it, so we were confident she would be a good addition,” she said.
“We went with a cat because they’re lower maintenance and more independent than a dog, and the Korumburra Vets helped us pick out a cat with the right temperament for this sort of environment.”
Maple is currently recovering from her desexing surgery in an enclosure in Carinya’s activities room, but she’s regularly brought out to play and socialise.
She’ll eventually be free to roam the facility, except at meal times, when she’ll be confined for safety and hygiene reasons.
In another example of Carinya’s understanding of the benefits of companion animals, the committee of management also allows pets, subject to application, in the independent living units in the retirement village adjacent to the lodge.
“Each application has to be approved by the committee,” Sarah said.
“But if someone already has a pet they want to bring with them when they move into a unit, that usually wouldn’t be a problem,” she said.