The Maudsley cat

The not very good photo is of Coco, the Maudsley Hospital cat and one in a long line of felines who reside in psychiatric hospitals. Not all psychiatric hospitals have cats, but they’re not uncommon and exist as a sort of informal tradition of live-in feline therapy.

They’re very popular with both staff and patients, but their presence tends to drive managers up the wall, which just makes them all the more endearing. I’ve worked in three hospitals that have cats and almost invariably they live in the older adults ward, keeping the older folks company (and vice versa, of course).

The older adults ward at the Maudsley is called the Felix Post unit, after the distinguished psychiatrist of the same name. Coco’s predecessor was naturally called Felix, leading to occasional confusion where people assumed the ward was named after the cat.

As I hadn’t seen Coco all summer I enquired and it turns out he’s “gone to Liverpool”, which I’m assured isn’t a euphemism to protect those of fragile mood, but a genuine change in his location as the ward manager moved with Coco in tow. So for the first time in decades, the Maudsley is without a hospital cat.

One Comment

  1. Posted August 23, 2008 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    We have a cat at our Pain Management Centre – his name is Jack, he sleeps mainly on the printer in our administration office, and his favourite wandering place is on the seats in the waiting room. He is the first one we’ve had at Pain Management, but is the son of the cat that lives in the Spinal Unit on the same campus. Cat ‘therapy’ is alive and well in modern health care – despite scaremongering that they carry diseases such as toxoplamosis or ‘cat scratch disease’. Jack’s pretty stroppy and can inflict a painful scratch, but he’s much loved and it’s been interesting to see the response from patients who are the most supportive of him remaining on the premises!


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