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Reading With Cats helps kids, kitties in Cache Humane Society program

August 10th, 2010 Posted in Arts and Life

Story & Photos by Caresa Alexander

LOGAN—It was Wednesday afternoon and Danielle and Haily Lee were hanging out at the Cache Humane Society shelter. Danielle held up a folded piece of paper and looked at it with a smile. The paper was wet on the edge and embossed with small chew marks. She then looked to the shiny cage were two innocent looking kittens sat.

“I like the one that ate the paper,” Danielle laughed.

Her daughter Haily pointed to the other kitten in the cage, a small tabby.

“I like that one. It’s really cool,” she said.

Danielle and Haily were at the shelter for the weekly Reading with Cats program. Giggles and meows filled the room as children held cats on their laps and listened to stories.

The shelter opened in October 2008 and volunteers Susan Kadlec of Logan and Diane Malmquist of Nibley have run the Reading with Cats program for the past year.

“The two most important things are improving the lives of cats, and children’s literacy,” Kadlec said.

Reading may not be an obvious part of the Humane Society’s usual services—including pet adoptions, animal owner surrenders, spay and neuters, immunizations, vaccinations and impound services. But some of the animals that are brought to the shelter aren’t used to people. That is where children can help.

“One of the things they can do, certainly, is socialize the cats,” Kadlec said. “That is a big part of what we are trying to do here because if they socialize the cats they are going to be better prospects for adoption.

“You are not going to adopt a cat that doesn’t want to come up and have you pet them,” she said. “That is a really big part of what we do is socialize cats so they want to be with people and they are comfortable around people.”

Danielle and Haily have attended Reading with Cats for two months. Danielle said they were looking for a mother- daughter activity, and a friend suggested the program. They help to socialize the cats by holding them and playing with them. Danielle said it makes her daughter happy to be able to play with the animals that don’t have a home.

“I think it is important for the kids to be able to come and play with the animals, especially if they live in apartment or something and can’t have animals,” Danielle said. “It gives them some animal time.”

Just as some cats may not be comfortable around people; there may also be children that are not comfortable around cats. Reading with Cats provides a way for kids to become more familiar with felines in a fun, learning environment.

“Some of the children already are used to cats and so they are really good with cats,” Kadlec said. “Other children that aren’t so used to cats, we try to teach them how they are supposed hold cats, how they are supposed to pet cats, the whole idea of sanitizing their hands in between so they understand the idea of hygiene. We have seen children who initially aren’t very familiar with cats really come to love cats. That is very rewarding for us.”

Kadlec and Malmquist also educate the community by visiting local schools.

“During the school year we go with an animal control officer to the different elementary schools,” Malmquist said. “We talk to the kids and tell them the best ways to take care of their pets at home, and we push the spay and neuter [program] because we have the clinic here now.”

When children see a stray or lost or hurt animal, they may not know what to do to help it. Kadlec and Malmquist help kids understand the job of animal control so kids are not nervous and they know that the animal will be taken care of.

Many of the school children have not seen the new shelter on Valley View Highway west of Logan. Malmquist said they show them pictures of the new building and explain the process that an impounded animal goes through when it arrives at the shelter.

“We do stuff that helps kids take better care of their pets,” Malmquist said. “Then let them know what is going on with pets in Cache Valley—just so it brings them peace of mind so they know the right thing to do and how to treat animals.”

Although Cache Valley is more of a dog community, Kadlec said, attitudes toward cats have improved. Through the Reading with Cats program, she has seen more goodwill toward the animals.

“I would love to see an increase in adoptions above and beyond what we are doing right now,” Kadlec said. “That ultimately would be what I would like to see.”

For more information on pet adoptions and other services at the Cache Humane Society, visit http://cachehumane.org


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