New Fife charity is the cat’s whiskers!

Elizabeth with Momo and Dr Hayashi. Pic by FPA
Elizabeth with Momo and Dr Hayashi. Pic by FPA

A new charity which improves the wellbeing of people suffering from dementia is proving a big hit at nursing homes in and around Kirkcaldy.

Cat and Chat was started up in January by Dr Mayumi Hayashi, a researcher in the field of dementia, and her husband Ben Butler.

Mimi-Chan (Little Ears)

Mimi-Chan (Little Ears)

The couple, who live in Kirkcaldy, take their beloved cat Momo-Chan, (little peach in Japanese) around three nursing homes run by Kingdom Homes, giving residents the chance to stroke and cuddle her.

And staff say the weekly visits, which have been running for just a few months, are proving a huge success, helping to calm agitated people, prompting conversations and promoting feelings of happiness and contentment.

One lady who had not spoken for around three years told Momo she was a “beautiful cat” while those confined to bed through illness or infirmity enjoy spending time with the cat curled up beside them.

Cat and Chat has just been awarded Big Lottery Funding through Awards for All and it hopes to expand the service to other homes, hospitals and healthcare premises around Fife.

It already has sessions three days a week at Methven House in Kirkcaldy, and also visits Camilla Nursing Home in Auchtertool and Roselea in Cowdenbeath as well as occasional visits to Barogil in Cluny.

Demand is such that the couple are currently training another cat, Mimi-Chan (Little Ears) to follow in Momo’s pawprints!

Methven House resident Elizabeth Blair (77) loves her visits from Momo.

“I didn’t like cats before, but Momo is a lovely cat and she loves being patted,” she says, visibly relaxing while stroking the placid cat which sits happily in her lap.

Dr Hayashi (45), said: “I work as a researcher at Edinburgh University and my work includes finding ways to improve the quality of life for people with dementia. Cat and Chat is going really well and we hope to expand it around Fife.”

Colleen Smith, activities co-ordinator at Methven House, said: “I saw a flyer and decided to try it here. The residents love it so much – they are always asking when Momo is coming. I’ve spread the word to our other homes.”