PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — Inspired by goat yoga, the Peoria Humane Society is starting its own new exercise craze — kitten yoga.
For a $20 donation, participants can interact with free-roaming kittens during a yoga session led by a certified yoga instructor.
The idea was immediately met with enthusiasm. The first session filled up so fast organizers decided to add a second session. It filled up as well.
“We have a waiting list and there’s talk of doing it again,” said Kitty Yanko, education coordinator at Peoria County Animal Protection Services. “It’s a fundraiser, so if there’s that much interest, we will certainly do it again.” Classes are being held in the Humane Society building next door to the PCAPS facility.
Kitten yoga is one of several new initiatives PCAPS and PHS are implementing this year in their ongoing efforts to find homes for the many cats that end up in the shelter. Summer is particularly bad — it’s likely the shelter will soon be inundated with kittens.
“It’s a fun way to showcase the cats available for adoption and to promote the human-animal bond,” Yanko said. “It’s also a way for a local business to partner with a community agency that needs help.”
The new programs were inspired by the success of PCAPS new cat room, said Yanko.
“The staff likes the new room so much it’s pushed us to a new level of fun, and gotten us thinking about what else can we do,” she said.
Long on the shelter’s to-do-list, the cat room was finally finished in March. The cages that once lined the walls are gone, and in their place are colorful steps leading to wooden boxes where cats can curl up for a snooze. On the other side of the room, a cat tree gives the animals more opportunities to climb.
“The cat tree was donated by Jason Fecter,” Yanko said. “He volunteered to make this for the new cat room. He makes the most amazing cat trees.”
Another donation was provided by artist Jean Filson. She painted murals on two walls of the cat area — giant flowers fill one wall and a tree branches out on another.
On a recent weekday afternoon the room was inhabited by a handful of contented cats. A worker was scooping litter boxes while several visitors played with the curious residents.
“It’s so fun to go into that room now,” Yanko said. “The cats are happy, they’re laying in different places, and the volunteers love it.”
While there was concern initially about cats fighting when new animals were introduced to the room, it’s not been a problem, said PCAPS shelter director Bridget Domenighini.
“A little hissing is all. They work it out quickly,” she said. “Any cat who doesn’t get along with other cats goes to Petsmart or Petco.”
The arrangement is also better for people interested in adopting. Because they are meeting cats who are happier and more relaxed, they get a better sense of the animal’s personality. It’s also helpful to see how well the animal does with other felines.
“When you see a cat with 15 others in the room, then you know he gets along OK with other cats,” Domenighini said.
Though the shelter only had two adoptable kittens the week of June 19, they are preparing for kitten time, which has started later in recent years. In previous years the shelter has been so full they implemented a monthlong promotion where qualified people could take home a cat for free. PCAPS will continue the tradition this July.
“Last year we had 119 adoptions during the promotion,” Domenighini said. The $75 adoption fee is waived, but the cats will still be spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped.
Another longtime program that will continue this year is the Kitten Shower.
“We used to do it every year at the beginning of June. This year we’ve pushed it back to July,” Yanko said. The event is just like a baby shower. There will be games, a pink and blue cake and decorations and, of course, kittens. It’s free, but attendees are encouraged to bring a donation.
“We have a wish list of things that we regularly need — canned Science Diet cat food, kitten formula and litter,” Yanko said.
Source: (Peoria) Journal Star, http://bit.ly/2tGhgkf
Information from: Journal Star, http://pjstar.com