Hospice helper Mia eyes up retirement (at 88 cat years)

St Nicholas Hospice Care's cat Mia, pictured with 'Gill Wilkins, is retiring.'Picture Mark Westley
St Nicholas Hospice Care's cat Mia, pictured with 'Gill Wilkins, is retiring.'Picture Mark Westley

At the grand old age of 88 (cat years), it is time for one furry volunteer to hang up her harness.

Sitting on a comfy spot on a cushion in the sunshine and a few extra Dreamies treats are Mia the cat’s plans for retirement, after she decided it was time to give up her ‘day job’.

Since 2012, Mia has regularly visited St Nicholas Hospice Care to bring joy to patients, visitors and staff.

The visits have been something Mia and countless patients have enjoyed, but after turning 18 human years on Sunday Mia, a lilac-point Burmese, decided it was time for a rest.

Jan, Mia’s human owner, said: “It has been so rewarding to see people being comforted by Mia.

“She is a conduit for conversation. Something about her makes people want to open up and talk.”

A typical visit would include a cuddle in reception, a walk to the hospice’s Orchard Centre to say hello to patients using its facilities, before a saunter to the inpatient ward for more cuddles, some sitting on laps and maybe a snuggle on a bed.

When patients were admitted to the hospice, Mia would often accompany them from the ambulance to the ward.

“One lady said she was terrified of coming in, but because she was cuddling Mia it didn’t seem so bad,” said Jan.

Described as having ‘an incredible temperament’, Mia first visited the hospice when Jan’s father was an inpatient.

“One day, one of the staff said he hadn’t responded to anyone all day. I put Mia on the bed and put his hand over her and he woke up and became quite chatty,” said Jan.

“Mia has had that effect on patient after patient.”

The hospice thanked Mia and Jan with flowers, a toy and a few bags of Dreamies.