Tippy couldn’t be bothered, finding more interest in toys and cat nip. Gary, on the other hand, maneuvered his way through the posing yogis.
“If the opportunity arrives to pet a kitten, feel free to do so,” said Mallory Carteaux, Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources fitness and wellness supervisor.
The two felines and what’s expected to be several kittens — if they’re not adopted in the meantime — will help with the “meowditation” at cat yoga, starting Saturday (or, if you’ll be so inclined, “Caturday”).
Manatee County Animal Services and parks departments teamed up to host two half-hour classes on March 10, April 14 and May 5 at the Downtown Cat Adoption Center.
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“This is kind of a trial run,” said Carteaux, who is the event’s instructor. “We started it in the springtime because springtime is kitten season.”
Anywhere from early spring to early fall, the shelter will get an influx of nearly 100 additional stray kittens compared to their normal intake, known as kitten season. This often puts stress on the 1002 Manatee Ave. W. adoption center, also known as Downtown Kitty Town, for resources to care for the kittens.
The class is free and already filled up to capacity because of the popularity of the novel experience. Carteaux said there’s a possibility of dropouts or additional classes down the road, so anyone interested can contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“This is my first experience teaching with animals, so I’m pretty excited about that,” she said, adding that goat yoga is also a big trend.
Participants are asked not to bring their own cats, but to come with donations of kitten milk replacement, canned kitten food, litter and litter boxes, kitten nursing bottles or droppers and heating pads to help with kitten season. Community members who aren’t participating can also bring donations and adopt, as the adoption fee for cats and dogs at Manatee County shelters is waived through March 17.
Adoption center volunteer collaborator Jamie Schindewolf said having people stop by and just socialize with the cats is a positive, even if they don’t adopt.
“It would be a great way to bring people to the center,” she said. “A lot of people don’t realize it’s here.”
Carteaux said she enjoys partnering with different departments to expand the reach of her practice, like at the library or on the beach. While these classes are geared toward beginner yogis, she fully expects distraction and interaction with the furballs.
“Part of the hope is that people will come — they won’t bring a cat, but they’ll leave with a cat,” Carteaux said.
Animal services also unveiled Wednesday the installation of artificial EasyTurf for its shelter dogs at the Palmetto Adoption Center, located at 305 25th St. W.
“We are positive that the new turf will improve the dogs’ chances of getting adopted during the meet-and-greet with potential adopters,” said Kassandra Zess-Pagal, vice president of Friends of Manatee County Animal Services. “The turf is cleaner, healthier and safer for the dogs. They really seem to love it.”
The $40,000 it took to install the new play area was raised by the nonprofit Friends of Manatee County Animal Services.
“The newly-turfed play yards are a testament to the great things that can happen when a nonprofit partners with a government agency to improve the lives of our homeless animals,” Animal Services Chief Sarah Brown said. “What a great way to start 2018, with these beautiful new yards, that will benefit the dogs, and those that come here to adopt.”