DECATUR – Cats and yoga are a natural fit. They're flexible and there's even a position, cat-cow, named after their arching backs, but they aren't very focused or controlled.
Breezy, a young black and white cat from Homeward Bound pet shelter, made herself at home on a mat at the Yoga at Connie's studio where she groomed herself in a position only a cat, or a yogi, could accomplish.
“Now, no screaming if a cat jumps on you,” said studio owner Connie Pease who led the cat class fundraiser last Friday.
June is adopt-a-cat month and the goal of the first time event was to find new owners either in class or through a video that was filmed of it and will be posted online of the class. Volunteer Jeanette Skaluba does social media promotions and videos for Homeward Bound and organized the event.
“Cats rule the Internet,” Skaluba said, referring to popular feline videos, including ones of cats interrupting yoga students. “But that trend hasn't increased adoptions.”
Skaluba and other volunteers picked out six of the shelter's more sociable cats and drove them out to Latham where Connie Pease's yoga studio is. Skaluba has been doing yoga there for five years.
“The idea came from Oreo,” she said.
Skaluba has video of the 12-year-old female Oreo riding on her shoulder, which inspired the cooperative cat class. However, the normally social Oreo and several other cats stayed hidden throughout the class despite prompting with treats and toys from the volunteers
“Cats you can't predict,” Skaluba said.
There aren't many hiding spots in the old barn, but some cats found them peeking out curiously at the humans. Others needed some encouragement from the volunteers who brought them to the middle of the classroom and let them loose to move around, under and, in a few cases, over the participants.
While the cats fit in easily, the yoga students quickly learned to look before moving to a new position in case a feline was curled up on their mat. The cat class was also a little less focused as participants left positions to pet a passing cat and louder as they laughed at their antics.
Breezy couldn't stay still. She found a ray of sunlight in the barn, but decided to settled on Emily Cook's yoga mat. She lay there looking up at Cook who had to hold the downward facing dog position longer than usual.
Pease's yoga studio is in a rural area where people drop off a lot of cats. So when Skaluba asked her about doing a cat yoga class in June, Pease happily agreed.
“I think it's perfect; it's a start,” Pease said.
Instead of a class fee, the shelter also took cash and supply donations, of a large basket of food and other supplies. The event raised more than $500 including two sponsors. Pease hopes they can continue to team up, especially since there was more interest in the class than the studio could hold.
Leslie Bain is allergic to cats, but took medication in preparation for the class that she came out for specifically.
“It's important to get the word out, it's such a good cause,” she said.
Bain said she would take the class again and it would be better for the cats as well.
“I think if we did this on a regular basis, they'd be more comfortable,” she said.
For more information on how to adopt, visit www.homewardboundpetshelter.com or find the cat yoga videon on the Facebook page.