Get ready to downward dog like you never have before.
Sweet Serenity Yoga and Wellness is hosting “cat yoga” on Sunday, Aug. 11, from noon until 1:15 p.m. 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 was set up in 2009 to support animals at the shelter requiring medical attention beyond the procedures covered under DCAS’s regular budget, like spaying/neutering, vaccines, and x-rays. Through to the end of June 2019, the shelter had spent $35,000 from the fund to help pay for additional veterinary services.
Sunday’s cat yoga will be the fifth event Jenine Lehfeldt, owner of Sweet Serenity Yoga and Wellness (8330 112th St.), has hosted benefiting DCAS, and she’s raised over $1,850 so far. The animal lover is offering the relaxing Hatha class, led by instructor Laura Chenier, as a means to raise awareness and generate donations.
“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 explained in a press release. “There’s lots of giggling, so the mood is really great.”
|Sunday’s cat yoga will be the fifth event Jenine Lehfeldt, owner of Sweet Serenity Yoga and Wellness, has hosted benefiting the Delta Community Animal Shelter. (Photo submitted)|
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 said in a press release. “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.”
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 said. “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.”
Socializing kittens at events like cat yoga better prepares them for adoption, according to Ryan Voutilainen, animal shelter manager at DCAS. The shelter considers animal welfare of utmost importance, so that’s what comes first when selecting which furry guests to send out to events like cat or bunny yoga, which Sweet Serenity has also hosted in the past.
Voutilainen said these events help the public connect with the shelter and can potentially spark someone’s interest in volunteering, fostering or even adopting.
“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,” he said in a press release. “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 DCAS’s care. 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 said. “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.”