Felines taught the art of yoga

Kelly Russouw and Muffin bonded during the yoga event held last month.

A theatre nurse at the Animal Anti-Cruelty League (AACL) in Epping has started a yoga class… for cats.

Juanita Raath believes teaching the felines how to do the “downward dog” and other yoga moves will help them find loving homes.

The first yoga event, involving 10 people and five cats, was held at the AACL’s Epping branch last month.

“The 45-minute class was run by yoga instructor Natalie Simpson who showed the participants various yoga positions. We are currently looking for a studio space where we can host our second event.

“We are hoping to get more people involved in our second session,” said Ms Raath.

The cats and their human friends were shown how to do various poses, such as “the mountain”, “downward dog” and “tree and bridge”, among others.

“I feel that cats are very instinctive,” said Ms Raath, “and yoga puts people in a very peaceful state, which is what cats are attracted to. Doing yoga with your cat is such a peaceful and special experience and enables the human to bond with their feline counterpart.”

Ms Raath said cat yoga was not a new concept.

“A couple of years ago, I saw a video of it being done with cats in Orlando, Florida, in America. I am a cat person, and while working here, it bugged me that our adult cats were not being adopted because people are more attracted to the kittens,” she said.

The organisation, made up entirely of volunteers, has branches in Bellville and Epping.

“Our motto is to promote kindness and suppress cruelty toward animals,” said Ms Raath.

Inspectors visit poor communities to educate residents on how to care for their animals, including nutrition and the pros and cons of sterilising their animals.

“They also have the authority to lay animal cruelty charges against people found to be mistreating their animals,” she said.

Ms Raath said the Epping branch had rehomed 149
cats and kittens last year and a further 51 cats and kittens so far this year. “Currently we have 26 cats and kittens in our cattery and we only have capacity for 30 cats,” she said.

The Bellville branch had rehomed 169 cats last year and a further 36 cats so far this year.

Following the cat yoga event, two potential adoptions were set in motion.

“Many of the cats, brought here, are either handovers or strays. We microchip; sterilise and provide them with the proper innoculations before we place them in the cattery,” Ms Raath said.

It costs R650 to adopt a cat and potential owners are screened.

“If our cats or dogs don’t find homes and we reach full capacity we are forced to euthanise them which is very difficult for us.”

To learn more about cat yoga and for more information on how to adopt a cat or dog, email juanitavetnurse@gmail.com or call her on 073 617 8588.