|Duke at work.|
ONE day you're living on the streets wondering where your next meal is coming from, the next you're an integral part of the medical team on an intensive care unit.
Meet Duke Ellington Morris, a therapy cat at UC San Francisco who is bringing joy and comfort to patients and staff alike.
"He's an absolutely lovely, lovely cat," said Elizabeth Fernandez, senior public information representative at UCSF. "He's so patient. I've watched him in action a number of times and he's given such consolation to our patients, and to our staff."
|Taxi! Duke is wheeled around the unit on a cart.|
Duke's story began in 2010 when he was a half starved feral cat brought into a shelter. He was adopted by Jennifer Morris for her five-year-old daughter Isa.
"We went into the cage area and Duke was very smitten by my daughter. So I figured the cat couldn't be all that bad," said Jennifer.
He quickly settled into the family and it soon became apparent that he was a real people person, hopping onto visitors' laps and purring happily. Jennifer thought his gift of love should be more widely shared and enrolled him in the San Francisco SPCA's Animal Assisted Therapy Program.
"He went to two different sessions to see if he was a good fit and he passed with flying colors," Jennifer said "They did all sorts of tests. A whole bunch of employees from the SPCA sat in the room and Duke made the rounds going from person to person."
|Hello there, buddy.|
So now Duke is one of 18 animals - the rest are dogs - who comfort patients at UCSF Medical Center. Duke settled into the team immediately and is loving his work.
"They [the therapy pets] need to be very, very calm and they need to work well with new people," said Elizabeth Fernandez. "And they need to like to be petted by strangers."
Duke takes all the cuddles he can get before moving on to his next patient - with a little help from the cart that has become his trademark ride.
Duke still lives with Jennifer and Isa, going home each evening to even more cuddles.
|Duke and Isa.|
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