“I’m not sure if Oreo was in need of us, or we were in need of Oreo.”
Oreo the cat was just like any stray cat out there: trying to make a living on the streets and minding her own business, until one day she walked into a nursing home and decided to make it hers. She originally lived right around St. Augustine Health Ministries in Cleveland, until she finally wandered inside about five years ago and never left.
She isn’t the first cat that’s been at the facility, but she’s the only one that’s been able to thrive in the busy environment of the facility and act as a caregiver and supporter for so many of the patients in the nursing home. The home has approximately 200 patients living there; some patients are there because of old age, while others have suffered brain injuries or strokes and are unable to care for themselves.
Since many of the patients used to have pets in their home, Oreo’s presence (along with the on-site dog, Coco) provides comfort, love, and entertainment, which is her full-time job, but receptionist Carmen Delgado has taken pictures of Oreo performing her other “duties” at the facility.
“I’m always getting pictures, even on the weekends or at night that the staff are taking. ‘Oh look, Oreo is at the reception desk, answering the phone, because it’s after hours’, or ‘she’s sitting on a bench with a resident who’s waiting for her ride,’” said Delgado.
Dana Carns, director of advancement at St. Augustine Health Ministries, told The Huffington Post that Oreo is not a lap cat but she’s very social, often accepting scratches on the head from everyone who finds her, whether it be residents, visitors, or staff.
According to Carns, Oreo is “just another example of the love that you often find in a home.”
Nursing homes can often be difficult places for patients to live in and adjust to. While there are many activities to participate in and tons of people to socialize with, it can often feel lonely, unfulfilling, and even confusing to those who are sometimes unsure of why they are there. Oreo is a constant source of comfort whose loving nature is exactly what many patients need in that environment.
“I’m not sure if Oreo was in need of us, or we were in need of Oreo,” Carns said. “But she’s a great addition to our family.”
Watch the video below to see Oreo in action.