It seemed all cat lovers were amazing at yoga when Miami-Dade Animal Services teamed up with Green Monkey Yoga this past Wednesday for Meowmaste. The event was held thanks in part to advertising exec Gabriele Sheldon. After adopting a cat, she realized that International Yoga Day landed on Wednesday, June 21, during the peak of kitten season, when cats give birth, flooding animal shelters such as Miami-Dade's new location (3599 NW 79th Ave., Doral) with homeless litters. The season begins in the spring, peaks in late spring or early summer, and ends in the fall.
The event was held at the Pet Pavilion, a modern and spacious circular room surrounded by windows, located in the center of the new shelter. As soon as the door was opened, there they were: about ten tiny kittens in all colors and patterns, playing with toys and meowing. “There are three different litters in this room,” explained Miami-Dade Animal Services Social Media Specialist Helen Avendano. “They come in together, and we keep them together. That way, they’re socialized and there’s less risk of them becoming feral.”
(Check out this writer's Instagram video of the event.)
Soon after attendees began to arrive, Marissa Lew, a Green Monkey Miami Beach yoga instructor, said, “I think the cats will be on us at some points. Since I’ve never done this before, I did a little bit of research. And I read that the cats will go on you. I’m excited.”
Among the people who participated in the class were the founders of Meowingtons, a cat-themed online retail company with a wildly popular Instagram account, a couple of Miami-Dade Animal Services volunteers who happened to be very good at yoga, and a few others. They had heard about the event through social media or word of mouth. “The registration for this event filled up immediately,” Sheldon said.
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After the class concluded with the group namaste, not a single person wanted to leave right away. Toward the end of the class, those who felt a little timid practicing the poses enjoyed the comedic relief the kittens provided. “I fell in love with the cats, and I fell in love with yoga!” proclaimed a young woman who practiced yoga for the first time at the event. “It was difficult, but I think it was really good, and the teacher was amazing. Although the cats were a little bit distracting sometimes, when I got tense, I would hear the cat sounds and I would start to relax.”
Only one kitten was adopted during the event, but many people said they were either interested in adopting pets themselves or would tell their friends and family to check out the shelter. Though the bulk of the kittens from the event still need loving homes, Meowmaste was a step in the right direction when it comes to changing the negative stigma associated with animal shelters. Miami-Dade Animal Services runs "no-kill" shelters, meaning they euthanizes animals only in extreme cases and not because of a lack of space. Plus, the shelter's sleek, modern, and friendly environment might encourage more locals to consider adopting their next pet there.
Shelter managers hope to organize more events like this one. If you're interested in adopting a dog or cat, or if you would like to tour the new facility, visit miamidade.gov/animals.
Remember, always take a moment to “paws.” Meowmaste.