Cat yoga classes now offered at Harford County Humane Society

Kitty calisthenics -- in Harford County, you can take a yoga class with Fluffy.

When the Humane Society of Harford County begins holding yoga class next month, some of the participants will have an unfair advantage when it comes to mastering the cat-cow pose. And the pigeon pose. And the eagle. Not to mention downward-facing dog.

It's one of the benefits of having four paws, a super-flexible spine and a tail.

The humane society is hosting cat yoga sessions on the fourth Saturday of the month, starting Feb. 25. 

"Cat yoga is a trend that's been sweeping the country," Erin Long, marketing director for the Fallston-based shelter, said about plans to offer one mixed-species yoga class a month.

"Originally, we were going to do it for the staff as a team exercise to relieve stress and build rapport. But, our executive director decided to open it up to the general public and make it a fun experience."

Cat Yoga is one of five types of yoga classes being offered by the shelter, though the only one involving animals.

The cat yoga sessions will include about half a dozen adoptable felines, will be held on the fourth Saturday of February, March, April and May for adults aged 16 and older. Classes cost $12 each. 

'We've been getting a really good response," Long said. "If the classes are popular, we'll definitely add more sessions."

Anyone who has ever been allowed to share a cat's territory has watched the animals stick one leg straight up in the air and engage nonchalantly in any manner of seemingly impossible, and frankly rude, poses.

The kitties have the benefit of spines that rotate more than do most other species, and which are covered with an elastic cushioning. In addition, cats' shoulder blades aren't attached to bone but to muscle, so they can squeeze through tiny openings. Their tails help them balance.

But just because cats can effortlessly assume any pose that it takes their adult counterparts months to master, doesn't mean that they necessarily will.

Instead, it's been reported that during the cat yoga classes held in locales from New York to San Francisco to Atlanta, the four-pawed workout mates spend their time hogging the mats, drinking from the humans' water bottles, climbing on their backs and — at the moment when the people are concentrating most intently — licking their noses.

'It's distracting," Long admits. "But, that's also what makes it fun."

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