EXCHANGE: Animal protection group promotes kitten yoga

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 -…

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