These literary sessions help the dogs get comfortable with people — which in turns helps get them adopted.
Well guess what? There’s a shelter in Sarasota, Florida that does the same with cats.
“Perception is that dogs are better listeners, while the truth is cats have great attention spans and can sit and listen for hours,” says Cat Depot‘s executive directly Shelley Thayer. “If they don’t try to lie across the book you are trying to read to get even more of your attention.”
Cat Depot began encouraging visitors to read to cats starting in 2009 — one of a range of “enrichment” programs. Others include clicker training for cats, cat obstacle courses, and leash walking.
Reading was introduced as part of a yearly carnival at the shelter, and was so much fun — and so successful at helping shy cats come out of their shells — that it was integrated into the shelter’s summer camp for kids.
“One timid cat became so trusting he climbed onto his reader’s lap and was later adopted,” says Thayer.
Now, the shelter has a permanent little reading library chock-full of cat books that anyone can pick up and bring into one of the shelter’s cage-free enclosures.
And they do — though sometimes visitors prefer to BYO.
“Schoolchildren often bring books they need to read for school assignments. Adults bring novels. Some will read the newspaper,” says Thayer.
Thayer would like to see more people read to cats at her shelter — and more shelters encourage this activity.
“It’s a great program allowing the cats to move at their own pace, gain trust, build confidence, make new friends — and hopefully get adopted,” she says.
Thayer has some tips, if you want to try reading to shelter cats.
Be animated during the reading, and choose books with pictures, that have interestingly tactile surfaces, or popups.
And here’s our observation: Sometimes a cat may try to eat your book, while you’re reading. We like to think it’s just how they show they’re really engaged.
Find out more about Cat Depot on Facebook. Reach out to your local shelter to see if they allow, or would be willing to allow, visitors to read to cats.
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