Once a month, about a dozen people stretch and strengthen their muscles in a room filled with cats.
“People are encouraged at all times to stop, drop and snuggle. So if they choose to snuggle over stretching. I am never offended. And we spend an hour working out with the cats,” said class instructor Jessi Colon, who will also pause during class to take pictures of her class interacting with the cats.
Some of the cats are curious and play with the participants, while others ignore the class. But every cat is available to take home.
“What’s really special about the Cat Cafe is it’s so much like a home environment. These cats are up for adoption. And often times in shelters, cats are in enclosures where they are not really interacting with people the way they would interact in a home.”
Colon said her ‘active flexibility’ class offers a mixture of exercises taken from yoga, pilates and other regimens.
Many of the participants said they enjoy the warm and fuzzy feeling of the class.
“I need to relax more. And I love cats and I love, especially, rescue cats. I have two adopted cats of my own. So it’s a perfect opportunity to just hang out and pet some cats,” said Rae Paoletta who was taking the class for the first time.
Classmate Kristine Gig Bauer added, “I think the cats will be very calming and relaxing. I’m very, I’m very easily relaxed by cats. So I think it will help me probably do a little better with my yoga.”
While cat cafes are not new, they are a popular way for people to interact with cats in need of a permanent home.
Brooklyn’s Cat Cafe opened in 2016 and is operated entirely by animal rescue volunteers. Colon and other exercise instructors also donate their time to the cafe.
Since the cafe opened, volunteers say, more than one thousand cats have been adopted.