Nashville hospital utilizes therapy cat - WSMV News 4

Nashville hospital utilizes therapy cat

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Some hospitals use therapy dogs to help patients recover. Now there's another popular pet you can find in one Midstate hospital.

At TriStar Southern Hills, you might find Ella, the therapy cat.

For Ella, work is spending quality time with patients like Martha Mauk.

"You can talk to them, tell them anything you want," said Mauk. "They don't care. They just love you back."

Mauk is recovering from back surgery and has been at TriStar Southern Hills since last month.

She loves cats and dogs and said Ella's visit is one of the best parts of her day.

"They know who needs that, whether it is physical sick, lonely or depressed," said Mauk. "I think the animals pick that out and go to that person, cuddle with them and love them."

Emily Wilkinson, an occupational therapist, has seen the difference animals make when it comes to a person's recovery.

"It's been shown to reduce pain, reduce anxiety and produces endorphins which make you happy," said Wilkinson. "That's very important when people are in a lot of pain and feeling overwhelmed."

Across the country there are 10,000 registered therapy pets. Many are dogs, but some are cats like Ella.

Tracy Fulton, Ella's owner, brings her to the hospital once a week.

Before she started visiting, she went through a class that exposed her to things you would find in a hospital, such as wheelchairs and walkers.

Training aside, Fulton believes it's Ella's outgoing personality that makes her a perfect fit for this line of work.

"She's very social. So she loves to visit with patients," said Fulton. "She just cuddles right up."

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