Lewis the cat weaves his way through a row of participants during Kitten Yoga at the Everett Animal Shelter on Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Lewis the cat weaves his way through a row of participants during Kitten Yoga at the Everett Animal Shelter on Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Downward cat? At kitten yoga in Everett, it’s all paw-sitive vibes

It wasn’t a stretch for furry felines to distract participants. Some cats left with new families — including a reporter.

EVERETT — If loving kittens isn’t a stretch for you, you might enjoy cat yoga at the Everett Animal Shelter.

On Saturday morning, the Everett Animal Shelter and Mahad Yoga from Lake Stevens hosted a 90-minute kitten yoga session — 45 minutes of beginner-friendly yoga, followed by 45 minutes of playtime with potential pets. In the interest of journalism, I joined 22 other participants. Tickets sold out in less than 24 hours.

I figured it couldn’t make my week worse. On Tuesday, I learned my grandfather was in a coma. On Wednesday, my car died, so I needed to buy a new battery. On Thursday morning, I woke up to a text that said my grandfather passed. Then my tax return showed I owed more than a paycheck in taxes. On Friday, I bought an expensive last-minute plane ticket to Paris for the funeral, which would eat up 20 hours of my Sunday.

But first, I now had to do yoga with cats.

Kittens roam around the instructor during Kitten Yoga at the Everett Animal Shelter on Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Kittens roam around the instructor during Kitten Yoga at the Everett Animal Shelter on Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Kitten yoga grew in popularity in the 2010s with the rise of cat cafes. Yoga’s benefits are well studied, including reducing stress, fatigue, pain and improving sleep. And interacting with cats leads to improved mood. The effects of combining the two hasn’t been studied. If you’re a scientist looking for test subjects, please email me.

Kristie Rollins holds a black cat during Kitten Yoga at the Everett Animal Shelter on Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Kristie Rollins holds a black cat during Kitten Yoga at the Everett Animal Shelter on Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

I came into the class at the animal shelter, at 333 Smith Island Road, feeling drained and stressed. The group was mostly women with little or no yoga experience. But all of us loved cats.

Participants go through poses as Lewis the cat wanders about during Kitten Yoga at the Everett Animal Shelter on Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Participants go through poses as Lewis the cat wanders about during Kitten Yoga at the Everett Animal Shelter on Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Joining us were Demming, Farmington, Hopper, Hyacinth, Lewis and Haruki, who roamed freely while we followed our instructor’s gentle poses.

A few shelter volunteers kept an eye on the kittens and played with them if they needed extra attention.

The class did its best to maintain its zen focus, but inevitable cat antics usually made it hard to resist laughing.

Lewis the cat takes a dive during Kitten Yoga at the Everett Animal Shelter on Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Lewis the cat takes a dive during Kitten Yoga at the Everett Animal Shelter on Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Because the shelter and Mahad Yoga hope to host cat yoga again — though exactly when is to be determined — allow a newly minted Kitten Yogi give you some advice if you get the chance:

• The best spot is by the door, next to the cats’ litter boxes and towers. They were familiar and comfortable with that corner of the room, so many came to say hello as I stretched and worked;

• You have to be OK with catching a faint litter smell between your deep breaths, a distinct odor any cat owner will be familiar with;

• And you must prepare yourself to fall in love with at least one kitten while you’re there.

All the proceeds from the event go to its in-house veterinary clinic. But Lindsay Roe, the shelter’s development director, said the shelter is also open to cats finding their purr-fect home.

Nationwide, animals shelters have recently faced severe overcrowding, with more pets than prospective owners looking to adopt.

That’s where Haruki comes in. The 2-month-old orange cat with pointy ears decided to sit on my mat and play with my reporter notebook. Because I love it when animals take an interest in my job, I fell hard for him. He reminded me of my previous cat, Lyanna, who loved taking part in interviews. Along with my heart, he stole my focus away from my yoga poses and personal woes. I didn’t mind.

I wasn’t the only one to fall head over heels for one of our hosts. As the room emptied, Teresa Miniken continued cuddling with Hyacinth, a 2-month-old tortoiseshell kitten.

A kitten gets a little sleepy after Kitten Yoga at the Everett Animal Shelter on Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

A kitten gets a little sleepy after Kitten Yoga at the Everett Animal Shelter on Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Four years ago, Teresa Miniken’s cat Mimi died. She was still grieving and did not want to get a new cat — despite her daughter Chloe Miniken urging her to do so.

“I just know. She has an emotional hole in your heart that only a cat can fill,” said Chloe Miniken, who had taken the day off from her work at a veterinary clinic in Shoreline for the event.

And now, Teresa Miniken didn’t want to leave without adopting Hyacinth.

Despite her unique look, the kitten looked eerily similar to a cat she had years ago. Hyacinth also shares a name with Teresa Miniken’s favorite flower, which can be a symbol of constancy, play, love, and overcoming grief.

Teresa Miniken said as soon as she held Hyacinth, “she just burrowed into my neck and started purring.”

“My other cat chose me, and I feel like this cat chose me,” she said.

A kitten decides to play with the drawstrings on Sarah Knudsen’s shirt during Kitten Yoga at the Everett Animal Shelter on Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

A kitten decides to play with the drawstrings on Sarah Knudsen’s shirt during Kitten Yoga at the Everett Animal Shelter on Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Karen Ebel came with her daughter Shaina Wright, who has six cats, wore a “Cat Mum” shirt and follows the shelter on social media. She immediately bought tickets. Ebel joked that her daughter would want to bring home a seventh cat after the event.

“It’s tempting,” Wright replied. “But six is enough.”

Ebel had recently lost her white-and-black cat Mr. Jasper. He was like a dog, an affectionate pet who loved tapping people with his paw. He also liked popcorn. Her other cat, Jasmine, has been sick and doesn’t have a good prognosis.

Two young kittens find the courage to sniff around during Kitten Yoga at the Everett Animal Shelter on Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Two young kittens find the courage to sniff around during Kitten Yoga at the Everett Animal Shelter on Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

“It’s so hard. Why is it so hard? But it is,” Ebel said about her recent loss and her near future one. “They definitely give you so much joy.”

I can certainly relate. I left the shelter in a much better mood than when I came in, all thanks to a 2-pound ball of joy. As soon as I got home, I filled out an adoption application for Haruki.

A kitten plays with a ribbon during Kitten Yoga at the Everett Animal Shelter on Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

A kitten plays with a ribbon during Kitten Yoga at the Everett Animal Shelter on Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Aina de Lapparent Alvarez: 425-339-3449; aina.alvarez@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @Ainadla.

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