Kitten yoga

When a cat showed up at Flow Space yoga studio, the owners named it Melty.

It garnered its name because it would sprawl onto the ground when the owners bent down to pet it, inviting them to rub its belly. Melty lives outside the studio now, but later this week herds of kittens just like it will be running across the studio floor.

“It’s kind of ironic timing,” said Maggie Rucker, an instructor and manager at the studio, of Melty. “Maybe (Melty) felt the vibes, I don’t know.”

Flow Space will host an interactive kitten yoga session Sunday at 2 p.m. at the studio, located at 117 NW 16th Ave. Half of the proceeds from the event will benefit the Alachua County Humane Society, which is providing the kittens, said Rucker.

Flow Space gives different classes during the week, catering to different levels of yoga expertise. While it has hosted other interactive yoga classes, it has never hosted a class with live animals. When leading classes where the focus isn’t just on the yoga, Rucker said it’s helpful to plan what postures will go best with the environment.

“I’ve planned sort of gentle postures you can hold for awhile where the cats have the opportunity to be in your lap or on your back or on your belly,” Rucker said. “You can interact with them and not get out of sync with the rest of the class.”

After seeing how much attention an interactive class like kitten yoga was getting, she decided to partner with the humane society to provide an interesting class and help some cats find permanent homes.

Because of the stress-relieving qualities that animals can have, kittens in the class would be a welcome distraction for her. The class will have a slow-paced nature, which makes it perfect for beginners.

“We’re just going to have a really good time and make it lighthearted,” she said. “It’s not going to be an intense yoga class — it’s going to be really gentle; we don’t want to step on the cats.”

The studio has sold out the event, with 40 people expected to attend. They may sell a limited number of spots at the door to ensure enough room for the kittens to roam.

The purpose of the event is twofold: to bring people together for a relaxing, stress-relieving time and to raise awareness for pet adoption in the community. Margot DeConna, the director of development for the Alachua County Humane Society, said the shelter will be offering a suggested adoption donation, instead of an adoption fee at the event, meaning people can donate whatever they are able.

DeConna said the shelter tried to hold a kitten yoga event in the past at their facility but didn’t have the space for both people and cats. She said there are currently about 70 adoptable cats at the shelter.

Even if people are not able to make it to the class to adopt a cat, the humane society will extend the donation special to the cats at the shelter throughout the day of the event. DeConna said having the event at Flow Space is great publicity for the shelter because of the high number of kittens born during the summer.  

“That’s typical for all the shelters in our area,” she said. “As soon as the weather warms up, we start seeing literally hundreds of litters of kittens.”

About 20 kittens will be at the event, mostly ranging from 2-to-6 months old. Most of the kittens aren’t coordinated yet, so they are learning how to jump and play while some people will be learning yoga poses.

DeConna said she hopes this event will solidify Alachua County’s position as a no-kill community and bring attention to the work the shelter does in maintaining that.

“What we’re working towards when we do events like this is to try to get animals into homes and try to get people to know what the humane society does and to view us a resource and to continue consider adopting pets,” she said.