Austin Humane Society's Reading-to-Cats Program

We read to kids, so why not let the kids read to to ... cats?! Here's the story of the Austin Humane Society's reading-to-cats program:

"It's just a fun, positive experience for the kids and great socialization for the cats," said Lisa Starr, the Austin Humane Society's director of marketing. She says Austin has the only reading-to-cats program there is (where else could be goofy enough?).

So how do the cats like being read to by kids?

"Some of them just look at 'em," Lisa said. "Some of them run away. Certainly each cat is going to have a different reaction. But the goal for the cat is that they'll have increased exposure to children. It's to help them to be more social and for them to be more adoptable."

When I was out there, Matt Leighty, 9, was reading a book called "So What's It Like to Be a Cat?" to a group of cats. So how'd that go, son? "They started fighting each other," Matt said. "Big tails and hissing. They don't appear to be doing it right now. I think they like this book better: 'Monkey for Sale.' " - Thanks Madalina Hinojosa!

(Photo: Lisa Starr/Austin Human Society)

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It's also a good way to socialize an animal without invading their space before they feel comfortable. Animals find it soothing when you talk to them in a steady calm voice and are more likely to respond positively to an approach. Plus, little kids are sometimes nervous about reading out loud to people, especially if they are struggling readers. Beneficial for all!
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I happen to have a kitten that loves to be read to. If it has cats in it, she'll sit attentively for about fifteen minutes or so - and if you think that's a short amount of time, you've obviously never had a kitten!
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Most cats I've owned wanted to sit on the newspaper, book, or magazine I happened to be reading at the time, rather than be read to.

Great idea for encouraging kids to read - that is what it's for, right?
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