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Animal Tales: At nursing home, Moses is elder statescat

SOUTH PARIS — For Moses, life is pretty good at the Market Square Health Center.

A stash of treats doled out daily. Cat doors installed in nearly every office for easy access to both people and plush chairs. A wide reception desk that sometimes bears interesting items to bat onto the floor but which is mostly used as a place for lounging, greeting people and basking in attention.

“He has a cushy life here, a very cushy life here,” said Barbara Townsend, receptionist and one of Moses’ caretakers. “If we all had it that easy, we’d probably all stay healthier.”

It’s worked, at least, for Moses. At 19, the brown tabby cat looks and acts closer to 9.

“We say he’s in the right place. He’s in a geriatric facility,” Townsend said. “He gets the best of care.”

Market Square, a 92-bed nursing home and rehabilitation facility, adopted Moses and another cat, Victor, from Responsible Pet Care of Oxford Hills about a decade ago. Moses’ former owner wanted a younger cat, Townsend said. Moses was about 8 or 9 at the time.

Victor died in 2014. Market Square recently adopted another — a sleek black cat named Jada. She spends her days on one end of the building, dozing atop paperwork in office in-boxes, curling up with residents in their beds and watching squirrels from her favorite window.

Moses spends his time on the other side of the building — mostly at the reception desk, where he can see and be seen.

“I like everything about him,” said resident John Ames, who’s had his own cats over the years and often goes by reception to see Moses. “He’s a friendly cat. And purrs! Oh my aching word.”

Friendly, that is, as long as no one gives in to the urge to rub his tummy.

“We stay away from his belly,” Townsend said solemnly.

Over the past 10 years, Market Square has reworked its reception area and front offices with Moses in mind. Nearly every office has cat flaps installed so he never risks getting shut in — or out — of a room. His food dish and litter box sit in a corner of the conference room and his favorite cardboard box is nestled in a nook under the reception desk. Townsend tucks away rubber bands, paperclips and other office supplies, lest Moses gets his paws on them.

“Anything I have loose on the desk he knocks on the floor,” she said.  

Moses has become a popular figure at Market Square, not only with staff and residents but also with visitors.

“We have people who come in just to visit the cat,” Townsend said.

Moses is so well loved that staff members had to ask residents to stop giving him treats. One staff member is now largely responsible for his daily treat intake, though the change hasn’t resulted in much weight loss yet. At 22 pounds Moses is a tad husky.

“He’s just barely fitting through the (cat) doors lately,” Townsend said.

Moses’ health is otherwise good. In human years he’d be in his early 90s — making him one of the oldest residents in Market Square.

There are no plans for him to retire.

“(The best part), I think probably, is the joy that he brings to people,” Townsend said. “He brings smiles to residents’ faces.”

Have an idea for Animal Tales? Call Lindsay Tice at 689-2854 or email her at ltice@sunjournal.com.

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