The Regina Humane Society has found the ‘purrfect’ balance between cats and books in one of its volunteering initiatives.
The Kiddy Readers program gives children ages seven to 12, under the supervision of a parent or guardian, the chance to practice reading while sitting around adoptable cats. In return, the felines get experience socializing with people, which makes them easier to adopt.
Nine-year-old Danika Woodcock has been volunteering for an hour almost every week this past year.
“It makes me feel happy because (the cats) actually get to know what it’s like to be around people,” she explained, adding the best part is being able to play with them.
“It’s helpful for (kids) to learn about cats, it gets them practicing reading and cats don’t care if you mispronounce a word,” said Danika’s mom, Janice. “Her reading has improved, she’s also become more confident.”
When children sign up for the Kiddy Readers program, they get a stamp card. Each time they complete a chapter, they’re rewarded with a stamp. After 10 stamps, kids get a prize and after 20, they get their picture taken with the cats.
Danika’s completed two stamp cards since she first joined last January.
Since the Kiddy Readers program started in 2016, 48 kids have volunteered for a total of 130 hours.
According to the Humane Society, research studies show having animals around while learning helps kids stay focused and improves their attitudes toward school. Pets also have the power to help some children with autism increase their use of language and improve their social interactions.