Program Allows Shelter Cat To Visit With Critically Ill Hospital Patients

Written by: Dina Fantegrossi
Dina Fantegrossi is the Assistant Editor and Head Writer for HomeLife Media. Before her career in writing, Dina was a veterinary technician for more than 15 years.Read more
| Published on January 26, 2017

A very special intensive care nurse at UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco is spreading joy, hope and healing – all without even standing up!

Duke Ellington Morris the Cat is a robust black and white rescue from the San Francisco SPCA. The laid-back kitty happily cruises the hospital halls soothing patients and stressed-out staff alike.


Duke is part of a unique partnership between the SPCA and the hospital known as the animal-assisted therapy program in which shelter pets visit with critical patients. The goal is to help reduce blood pressure, pain, stress, anxiety, and depression.

Concerned about the safety of a cat in the ICU? UCSF Adult Critical Care Director, Dr. Matt Aldrich says there’s no need to worry. All of the pets who participate in the animal-assisted therapy program are thoroughly vetted and vaccinated. A response on the UCSF Facebook page explains,

Our staff screens for patient allergies before the cat visits, as well as taking precautions with hand and room hygiene etc. In addition, the SPCA’s animal-assisted therapy program has specific grooming guidelines.

What do you think about hospital kitties like Duke Ellington? Do you think this big fella could help you feel better during your recovery?

Featured Image via Facebook/UCSF Medical Center