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Life at Wattle Downs is the cat's whiskers

Date: 10 May 2024

When Smokey’s owner needed to make the move from her apartment at Bupa Wattle Downs Retirement Village to the care home on site, Smokey continued to live his best life in the apartment next door.

Nine-year-old rescue cat Smokey has fallen on his furry feet in his time at Wattle Downs. When his original owner Lorna moved from her apartment into the care home, Smokey simply curled up with Brenda and Noel in the apartment next door.

“Smokey loves to sit on my knee, especially when I’m knitting,” says Brenda, noting that Smokey’s favourite time of day is “meal time.”

After his unofficial adoption by Brenda and Noel in apartment 13, Smokey spends his time sleeping, terrorising the occasional bird, and waking his cat parents in the middle of night as he embarks on a solo match with a ping pong ball.

“Coming into a retirement village is a huge life event, so it’s wonderful to be able to have a familiar friend to help settle into this new environment,” says Lynne Westbrooke, Village Coordinator at Wattle Downs.

“Pets bring such enrichment into daily life in a village, bringing positive benefits to residents’ mental and physical health. Alongside Smokey, we have previously welcomed a dog and a bird into the family here at Wattle Downs.”

Research has long supported Lynne’s beliefs around the enrichment pets bring to our lives.  Loving, fun and great company, pets provide a true sense of companionship and purpose. “Animals connect our residents with others,” says Lynne. 

“They are such a big part of an active, healthy and connected life – whether it’s walking a dog, playing with a cat or simply engaging in other pet-related activities.”

Lynne Westbrooke - Wattle Downs Retirement Village

When we look at our pet or interact with them, we experience a surge in oxytocin, commonly known as the ‘love hormone’ which fosters bonds with others, including our pets. This feel-good factor is also accompanied by an increase in our dopamine and serotonin – the happy hormones. Interacting with animals has also been shown to decrease levels of cortisol – the stress-related hormone, and lower blood pressure. Bottom line? Pets make us feel good.

For Brenda and Noel, Smokey has the feel-good factor. Happy in the knowledge he has his retirement village life sorted, Smokey will continue his daily pursuit of ping pong balls and meal times, all the while providing his owners with the love and connection essential to a fulfilled, happy life at Bupa Wattle Downs.

Considering taking your pet with you into a retirement village? Get in touch with your local retirement village to find out their pet policy. 

Wattle Downs Retirement Village

120 Wattle Farm Road, Wattle Downs, Auckland, 2103

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