Meownaste: Cat Yoga is the Latest Shelter Trend

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The “mewest” trend. Cat shelters across the U.S. are now offering yoga with cats, to promote the kitties available for adoption, and to help raise funds for their care. (Photo from CNN)

In an effort to draw greater awareness to the rescue cats available for adoption, a growing number of pet shelters in the U.S. are now offering yoga classes with kitties. The classes are available in Des Moines, Iowa, New York City, Mobile, Alabama, San Francisco and other towns and cities, and are expected to grow in numbers as this feline-tastic trend catches on.

One place where this is really popular is the Good Mews Shelter in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta, Georgia, which is home to about 100 rescue cats housed in a cage-free environment. Yoga aficionados get to bend and stretch amidst the felines, while their class fee is donated to the shelter.

Long-time shelter volunteer and certified yoga instructor Lisa Bass teaches the classes. She presented the idea to shelter director Lisa Johns, who thought it would be a great way to promote the kitties available for adoption while also raising funds for their care, and providing yoga lovers with a uniquely fun experience.

The classes are offered thrice monthly. In the three months since the classes started, they have become so wildly popular with the downward facing dog set that they sell out every time.

As a long-time yoga fan, I can attest to its many physical and mental health benefits. As my cats often join me when I practice at home, they can be distracting. But that’s the fun part, and I think this is a meow-velous idea that I hope other cat shelters get on board with.

NJ Closer to Cat Declawing Ban

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New Jersey is about to make history by becoming the first U.S. state to ban the declawing of cats, which animal welfare advocates applaud. (Photos from Wikimedia Commons and Alissa Wolf)

As I reported back in June, New Jersey was on the verge of passing legislation to become the first U.S. state to officially ban the declawing of cats. The Garden State is on the road to doing just that after Bill A3899 passed the Assembly on Monday, to much fanfare. I am proud to say that the bill was sponsored by my very own Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-Burlington).

While there would be exceptions for legitimate medial purposes, veterinarians who declaw cats and people who seek these services could face a fine of up to $1,000 or six months in jail. Violators would also face a civil penalty of $500 to $2,000.

Animal welfare advocates and many of those in the veterinary medicine community have long derided declawing as highly inhumane. Not only is this akin to cutting off a human’s fingers just below the first joints, this can lead to a host of medical and behavioral issues. These include arthritis due to the effects on a cat’s natural gait; litter box avoidance due to the impact on their natural and innate need to dig; they may experience great stress due to their inability to defend themselves; and more.

Alternatives to Declawing

Clawing is normal, natural cat behavior that serves the purposes of relieving stress, enabling kitties to mark their territories, effectively stretch their backs and they just enjoy it.

In order to minimize destruction to furniture and other household objects, be sure to have lots of high-quality scratching posts around the house, placed in areas where kitties especially like to scratch. Make sure that these are tall enough for kitties to get a good stretch, and are composed of materials that are appealing to felines, such as rough sisal.

You might also consider taking your cat to a groomer or veterinarian for regular nail clippings, and ask them to teach you how to do this at home. Another option is Soft Paws, safe, comfortable vinyl claw caps that were invented by veterinarian Toby Wexler, and are available in a variety of fashionable colors and styles.

These enable cats to retract their claws, and can last for up to six weeks. Most cats get used to them quickly, and don’t even know they are wearing them. You can apply these yourself, or take your cat to a groomer who has experience with this, which is what I did with Murphy when he was a kitten.

Regardless, this is excellent news for kitties and those who love them, and I hope other states get on board with this.