Downward dog with cats in Delta yoga fundraiser

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.

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Money raised goes to the Tollie Fund, which was set up in 2009 to support animals at the shelter requiring extra medical attention.

Jenine Lehfeldt, owner of Sweet Serenity Yoga and Wellness, is hosting her fifth event for the shelter, having raised over $1,850 so far.

The animal lover is pleased to offer the relaxing cat yoga 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 explains. “There’s lots of giggling, so the mood is really great.”

Children’s book author and illustrator Ashley Spires fosters kittens for the animal shelter 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.”

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.”

Shelter manager Ryan Voutilainen 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 what furry guests 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.

“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 the shelter, 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.

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