Children can read to cats this summer at Regional Animal Shelter in King William – Daily Press


KING WILLIAM — Cats in the Regional Animal Shelter are getting socialized — and children are making new furry friends — thanks to the Cats & Cloverbuds 4-H program.

Next month, the Cloverbuds will be reading books to cats at the shelter, located at 20201 King William Road in King William County. Sessions are being held Aug. 2 and 16 from 1-2 pm

“It really benefits both the cats and the kids,” said 4-H Extension Agent Christina Ruszczyk-Murray.

Experts have said that cats are soothed by the reading and that children gain confidence by reading aloud. It also builds a relationship between cats and humans.

Scholastic Books reported that “reading fluency, including reading speed and phrasing, improves with reading aloud and practicing the same material over and over.”

Ruszczyk-Murray has worked with the Cats & Cloverbuds program for three years and read with kids on July 12 for the first time since 2019. The program is open to all King and Queen and King William kids ages 5-8.

As of earlier this month, 10 dogs and 12 cats were available for adoption at the Regional Animal Shelter. So far, the shelter is 10 cats and four dogs under capacity.

“We are in a much better place than we were capacity wise than we were before July 4,” said Regional Animal Shelter Lauri Betts.

Although there was a flood of adoptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, overcrowding has become a national problem. Experts have said the issue may be due to rising prices throughout the nation, causing owners to be unable to care for their pets. Stray and feral animals that aren’t spayed and neutered also contribute to the overcrowding issue, Betts said.

“During the spring we usually always get an overpopulation of cats,” Betts said.

To help people from surrendering their pets, the Regional Animal Shelter has established a pet food pantry for pet owners struggling with the current economic crisis.

Shelters like the Regional Animal Shelter, which provides for the care and welfare of displaced animals from King William and King and Queen counties, are not only facing crowding issues, but also problems funding health care for its animals, according to Betts.

“We have some heartworm positive dogs and that costs us extra because the county doesn’t give us money to treat that,” she said.

To register for the Cats & Cloverbuds program, call the Regional Animal Shelter at 804-769-4983. For more information on volunteering or donating to the shelter, call or visit www.kingwilliamcounty.us/155/Animal-Shelter.

Amy Jo Martin, amyjoreporter@gmail.com

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