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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)

I read to my daughter every night, and more times than not, our cat will turn up to listen.

I've no idea what she (the cat!) gets from the experience, other than her obvious pleasure at the sound of my voice.

It is odd, though, that she seems more likely to turn up when we read a story with cats in it...
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Sounds like great experience for the kids, too. I've heard of similar programs, but I think it was with dogs. The idea is that the kids can improve their reading skills in front of a non-judgmental audience. I don't know if cats would work as well, though... especially if they look bored, get up, and leave.
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At the Northampton Library in Northampton, MA they have a reading program where kids that have a difficult time reading can sign up to read to the library dog that is a registered therapy dog.
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In my experience, a dog might also try to energetically lick your face as you sit and read to them. :P I think mine would wonder why I wasn't putting down the book and doing something more constructive with my hands, like petting her.

(I'm also quite amused by the repeated typo of "Humane Society" to "Human Society".)
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I have a friend who works at a shelter in Tennessee. From what he tells me, they would be thrilled to have some extra human bodies paying attention to the critters who reside there. I'm sure reading to cats and dogs is a positive experience for human and animal.
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austin... in february, the williamson co. animal shelter ran a 'Black is Beautiful' campaign to get black dogs and cats adopted, cuz black animals get adopted less... this was scheduled during black history month... the campaign didnt go so well..
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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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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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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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