Be Quiet, Be Still: Our experience reading to cats

When we first went through diagnostics for Calvin in the summer of 2017, one of the recommendations of the psychologist was to do hippotherapy. While originally ideas of Calvin doing water ballet with hippopotami popped into my head, Hippotherapy is actually the use of horseback riding as a therapeutic or rehabilitative treatment. Calvin loves animals, so I thought it would be a great match. However, upon looking into it, there were long waiting lists and high price tags (not covered by insurance) associated with the therapy.

When we began our homeschooling journey, I began to plan for our weekly activities. I started looking into volunteer work that a four year old could participate in. It was then that I found FurKids. They offered us the opportunity to volunteer at a local cat shelter by reading to cats. Here’s why this idea is so exciting:

Firstly, the rescue cats are naturally shy and anxious. The program helps the cats become socialized, especially around a rather rambunctious kiddo. In turn, it makes them more adoptable.

Additionally, for Calvin, the opportunity to play and read to cats hits several checkmarks.

It improves literacy! Some children have shown remarkable improvement in their reading skills. For Calvin, it’s another time during the week that we’ve set aside to read.

It’s a much cheaper substitute for that hippotherapy that I was talking about. There are studies that suggest that animals, especially cats, can help children with learning disabilities, mental health problems, and behavioral difficulties.

Volunteering, in and of itself, has wonderful benefits. Studies show that children who volunteer at a young age are more likely to develop a lifelong service ethic. Volunteering makes you part of community and boosts self esteem.

For all of these reasons and “fur” the FUN of it, we will now be weekly volunteers at Furkids Cat Shelter in Doraville!


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