Fostering rescue cats as health promotion

Posted by on 1 October 2023


23 Roseveare best poster

HOPE Scholar, Christine Roseveare won the best poster prize at the New Zealand Association of Gerontology Conference at University of Auckland earlier this month. Here is the abstract for the poster.

Background: There is growing interest in the health promoting potential of human companion animal relationships while acknowledging barriers to ownership, particularly for older adults. Companion animal fostering is a promising alternative that fosters relationships with animals while promoting health. This study aims to share findings and seek feedback on research exploring the health promotion potential of companion animal fostering by older adults through the Ottawa Charter for health promotion and Te Whare Tapa Whā frameworks.

Methods and results: The presentation shares findings from interview research conducted with 14 New Zealand animal rescue organisations that specialise in rehoming cats or kittens and collaborate with community animal fosterers. The research explored animal rescue organisation's experiences of working with older fosterers and the potential to involve more older people in companion animal fostering. The research follows a literature review that identified the health-promotion potential of companion animal fostering for both older adults and companion animals. The analysis presented suggests significant interest form rescue organisations in involving more older people as fosterers including the potential for working in residential settings.

Implications: Companion animal fostering aligns with the Ottawa Charter health promotion principle that caring for others in everyday settings promote health. The research has implications for retirement villages and residential care organisations interested in exploring alternative to pet ownership as well as rescue organisation practice. Involving more older people as animal fosterers has the potential to improve the health of both animal and humans who care for them while supporting rescue organisation's rehoming work.

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