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Yoga with cats: Out of the shelter and into the zen

Two Pasco County agencies partner to bring the interactive activity to local libraries.

LAND O’ LAKES — A black cat aptly named Karma came to the library looking for love.

Others kept to themselves, seemingly unimpressed by the downward dog posers, while the friendly feline sidled up to one after another at a special event called Kitty Cats and Yoga Mats at the Land O’Lakes Library.

“I don’t do yoga. I’m here for the cats,” said Taylor McKenzie after Karma curled up in her lap.

The event, held in honor of National Cat Day, was a collaboration between Pasco County Libraries and Pasco County Animal Services. This is the second time the agencies have offered the wellness activity. The first was at Hudson Regional Library, where one cat was adopted on the spot and the rest shortly afterward, said Spencer Conover, assistant director for Animal Services.

“It’s a good way to get exposure,” said Rachel Stever, education and outreach coordinator for Pasco County Animal Services. She also facilitates cat talks at the library and dog nature walks at local parks to promote adoptions.

With the success of this event, more will be planned.

It was a full house at the Land O’ Lakes library, with 30 people signing up in advance and others turned away because there wasn’t enough room, said Jordan Miltner, social media library associate.

“We have yoga at the library regularly," she said, "just not with furry friends.”

Catherine Seavey, librarian for adult services and a certified yoga instructor, teaches a Saturday morning class that is not so well attended.

“I think the cats did it," she said.

Eight felines came from the shelter. Along with Karma, there was Hannah, Barb, Brady, Justice, Madam Tamale and a couple others with no names.

Their stories differ, but there are typical scenarios for how pets arrive at the shelter, Conover said.

Some owners get sick and are hospitalized or pass away. Other owners are incarcerated. Some lose their homes and can’t take their pets with them. Some animals are rescued from the homes of hoarders or those who are overwhelmed. Others are neighborhood strays.

The average shelter stay is eight days, Conover said, “Some are there for an hour, some for a year.”

This multi-colored cat named Justice kept comfortably distant during the Kitty Cats and Yoga Mats activity at the Land O' Lakes Library. The event is a collaboration between Pasco County Animal Services and the Pasco County Libraries.
This multi-colored cat named Justice kept comfortably distant during the Kitty Cats and Yoga Mats activity at the Land O' Lakes Library. The event is a collaboration between Pasco County Animal Services and the Pasco County Libraries. [ Michele Miller ]

Officials hope that all the cats will find forever homes or at least be fostered for a time to help improve their socialization. Last year, some 3,000 cats were adopted, 6,500 animals total, Conover said, noting that the shelter had a “save rate of 90 percent.”

Getting the word out is a big part of keeping that number up.

“This is the best partnership we have,” Stever said. “It gives a secondary base to work with and helps us to reach more people. And it’s just really fun for the community."

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