Nameowste: Kitten Yoga Pounces Into Scottsdale

Smart kitty, letting people do all the heavy lifting.
Smart kitty, letting people do all the heavy lifting. Arizona Animal Welfare League
Kitten yoga is a thing now. It’s not that cats need it. They’re pretty mellow for the most part. But people, not so much. Unless, of course, they’ve taken to a yoga mat surrounded by nearly two dozen kittens.

It’s been happening since 2017, through Arizona Animal Welfare League. That’s a Phoenix-based no-kill shelter that looks for creative ways to pair pets up for adoption with people who can give them good homes.

The shelter partners with Scottsdale Quarter, which donates space for yoga teachers from floo-id Yoga to lead classes that mix kittens with movement. The instructors donate their time, too. And all of the $20 class fee goes to the shelter.

click to enlarge Wishing we could read these kittens' minds right about now. - ARIZONA ANIMAL WELFARE LEAGUE
Wishing we could read these kittens' minds right about now.
Arizona Animal Welfare League
After every yoga class, there’s a kitten pop-up shop.

Basically, it’s a way to introduce people to shelter kittens outside the shelter setting, says a AAWL spokesperson Michael Morefield. He’s the brains behind the kitten yoga class, and other unique ways of helping people get to know shelter cats. Turns out, there’s even a Ruff Draft book club.

For kitten yoga, up to 40 people can register per class. They’re surrounded by kittens while the instructor takes them through various poses, adapting the class to meet participants’ experience level. First-timers are very welcome, Morefield says.

Nearby, the shelter sets up cat-friendly areas with cat toys and places the kittens can take a break if they’d rather be napping than pawing at ponytails or scampering along yoga mats. The instructor is careful to avoid fast moves that might startle hesitant cats or land them in the wrong place at the wrong time.

click to enlarge Making a new friend during kitten yoga at Scottsdale Quarter. - ARIZONA ANIMAL WELFARE LEAGUE
Making a new friend during kitten yoga at Scottsdale Quarter.
Arizona Animal Welfare League
“It’s a pretty easygoing class,” Morefield says.

There’s no pressure to adopt a kitten, he says. But people who take the class sometimes stay for the pop-up shop, then decide to adopt a cat they bonded with over yoga.

There’s a $150 adoption fee, which helps the shelter cover the cost of having kittens spayed or neutered, and vaccinated.

Most of the kittens have foster homes, so they’re already getting some socialization, Morefield says. But the yoga class gives the kittens a chance to interact with more people and other cats.

The next yoga class at Scottsdale Quarter happens on Saturday, August 25, with instructor Christina Delgado Lear. About 15 people have already signed up, which may mean more shelter kittens will soon have new homes.

click to enlarge Kittens can opt out of yoga whenever they want to. - ARIZONA ANIMAL WELFARE LEAGUE
Kittens can opt out of yoga whenever they want to.
Arizona Animal Welfare League
For people who aren’t into kittens, we’re told yoga pairs well with other animals, too. You can find goat yoga in Gilbert, and dogs sometimes get yoga time around town as well.

Of course, Moreland is partial to kitten yoga.

“It’s a really fun way to interact and have fun with kittens,” he says.

Kitten Yoga. 8:30 a.m. Saturday, August 25, at Scottsdale Quarter, 15059 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale; 602-273-6852; Admission is $25 at the door or $20 via
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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble