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Miley the Cat Keeps Ailing Veterans Company

By Caroline Golon

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Photo credit: Leah Mills, SF Chronicle
click image to enlarge

There’s an unusual staff member at the Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center at Fort Miley in San Francisco. He had virtually no job experience before he joined the team, but he’s uniquely qualified for his position.

He’s Miley the Cat and, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, he’s been roaming the halls of the center, calming, comforting and keeping the residents company since 2010.

“He calms me down,” resident Clark Wood told the Chronicle. Wood, like many other residents, enjoys Miley’s company and waits patiently for his turn to hold the cat on his lap for some furry therapy.

While residents like to surmise that Miley came out of the woods behind the center one day, strode in and made himself at home, the real story isn’t as dramatic. A former feral, Miley was adopted from the San Francisco SPCA as part of a special program to make VA nursing homes more inviting. From his previous life on the streets, Miley has seen his share of the battlefield and seems to be grateful for his current retirement digs.

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Photo credit: Leah Mills, SF Chronicle
click image to enlarge

He has his own little “apartment” in a converted telephone booth, complete with toys, a cat tree and a bed. But he spends most of his time making his rounds or keeping tabs on goings on from various chairs – or laps - throughout the center or from atop a computer at the nurse’s station.

Miley also meets visitors at the elevator and follows them wherever they’re headed. Not surprisingly, visiting kids take a special liking to the friendly cat, who puts them at ease.

During his frequent rounds, Miley checks on his patients, one time even raising the alarm when resident Pat Collins was having a seizure. The cat jumped off the man’s bed and ran across the hall to Wood’s closed door, mewing incessantly. “I’ve never heard him cry before and I’ve been here quite a while,” Wood told the Chronicle. “He was trying to tell me that Pat was having a seizure.”

Miley takes his duties seriously. He jumps up onto the patients’ beds for a visual (and likely a chin scratch) and is known for his impeccable timing – arriving just as dinner is being served.

As much love and attention as Miley gives, he gets plenty in return. The residents dote on him. “He’s cute as the devil,” another resident Arnold Levagetto tells the Chronicle. “Animals are very good for patients. It’s undivided love.”


 

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