Get ready to downward dog like you never have before – with cats overseeing your movements as you flow through your Hatha practice.
The North Delta Studio’s playful and impactful class is open to anyone – no yoga experience necessary – for a minimum $15 donation, with all proceeds benefiting the Delta Community Animal Shelter (DCAS).
Money raised goes to the Tollie Fund, which supports animals at the shelter requiring medical attention beyond the procedures covered under the regular budget like spays/neuters, vaccines, and x-rays.
The fund’s namesake was a fun-loving 11-month-old puppy named Tollie that was overlooked by potential adopters because of a rare condition in her knees that required surgery. Soon after raising money to complete the procedure, the shelter was able to find her a perfect home, and they’ve continued to help animals like Tollie through the philanthropic fund since 2009. Up until the end of June this year, the shelter has spent $35,000 from the Tollie Fund to help pay for additional veterinary services.
Jenine Lehfeldt, owner of Sweet Serenity Yoga and Wellness, is hosting her fifth event for DCAS, having raised over $1,850 so far. The animal lover is pleased to offer the relaxing cat yoga class, led by instructor Laura Chenier, who is also a vet tech/zoologist, as a means to raise awareness, generate donations, and highlight how the community can support the shelter’s efforts.
During prior classes cats have climbed onto yogi’s laps or backs, and loved exploring the pile of bolsters and investigating themselves in the mirrored walls.
“It starts like a regular yoga class, but then the cats get curious and wander in and out of the practice. I’ll sometimes pick them up and deliver them around the room, too,” Lehfeldt explains. “There’s lots of giggling, so the mood is really great.”
Children’s book author and illustrator Ashley Spires fosters kittens for DCAS and is a lover of cat yoga.
“My experience with kitten yoga has been very satisfying; watching my fosters run around and interact with people in the room and seeing the reactions is just so beautiful,” she explains. “I’ve been practicing yoga for over 20 years, so I’m used to the environment and I think cats and yoga pair perfectly for a calm, happy brain.”
Spires began fostering orphaned kittens for the Delta shelter about four years ago, when she brought in a feral cat that needed medical attention and mentioned to staff that she had experience caring for neonatal kittens.
“Any kitten under the age of eight weeks needs special care, right down to bottle-feeding in the middle of the night,” she explains. “I’m uniquely positioned to do that because I work from home, and I helped my mom foster kittens from a very young age.”
Over the last four years, Spires has fostered 46 kittens at her family home in Ladner, and she doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
“It’s unbelievably satisfying; it fills my heart with joy to know I can help kittens when they’re most vulnerable, and then the shelter can find perfect homes and families for them based on their personalities and needs,” she says. “The quality of care that this particular shelter provides is very special. It’s amazing; they have cats and dogs come in that haven’t received proper medical attention or have had a traumatic event, and they provide absolutely every kind of treatment needed, including dental care, with the help of the Tollie Fund.”
Ryan Voutilainen, animal shelter manager at DCAS, explains that socializing kittens at events like cat yoga better prepares them for adoption. The shelter considers animal welfare of utmost importance, so that’s what comes first when selecting which furry ambassadors to send out to events like cat or bunny yoga, which Sweet Serenity has also hosted in the past.
He says these events help the public connect with the shelter and can potentially spark someone’s interest in volunteering, fostering, or even adopting.
“Our location, which is kind of in-between North and South Delta, can be a bit of a trek for some, so we want to remind people that we’re here, supporting Delta animals in any way we can,” he adds. “Senior animals and animals with medical conditions are always harder to adopt out, but we want people to really take the time to consider them, especially because they tend to be the ones that have the most love to give. Another benefit is we already know more about their personalities and issues, so we’re able to better match them to the right home.”
It’s the middle of cat season at DCAS, with over 20 cats currently looking for homes, not including the 36 in foster care. The shelter also temporarily houses dogs, budgies, rabbits, and critters like guinea pigs and mice.
The Tollie Fund supports extraordinary veterinary bills for all animals in their care, and it’s critical for treatments like radioactive iodine for hyperthyroid cats, life-saving limb amputations, or endoscopies required for animals that have ingested something harmful. These procedures give animals a second chance at life, often resulting in happy adoptions for those that experienced a challenging start or unfortunate circumstances.
“We’re happy to donate our studio space and the instructor’s time to help our community’s animals,” Lehfeldt says. “I’ve been called a ‘crazy cat lady’ – I used to have three cats I loved dearly – so I’m thrilled to help. And if people can’t attend the class but still want to donate we’re also accepting cash or in-kind donations of canned wet pet food, scratch pads, and food/puzzle toys on behalf of the shelter.”
Sweet Serenity will be further supporting DCAS later this month at the 10th annual Delta Community Animal Expo with a special outdoor dog yoga session. The family-friendly Expo will be held on August 18th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Ladner Memorial Park.
We’ve just sold our last spot for this Sunday’s Cat Yoga!
You’re welcome to still come and take your chances that a spot will open up if there’s a no show – and of course to see the adoptable kittens and make a donation to the Delta Community Animal Shelter’s #TollieFund!
If you were cat napping and missed this one, stay tuned for upcoming Animal Yoga events in the near future by signing up for our eNewsletter here: www.sweetserenityyoga.com (click login to create an account)!
Keep in mind we are also accepting cash or in-kind donations of canned wet pet food, scratch pads, and food/puzzle toys on behalf of the shelter.
You won’t want to miss the 10th Annual Delta Animal Expo! Sunday, August 18th 10-3pm in Ladner either! We will be hosting Dog Yoga (bring your furry companion!) at 11:30am