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Yoga Is The Cat's Meow At Tempe's New Cat Cafe

By Bridget Dowd
Published: Monday, May 29, 2017 - 5:05am
Updated: Monday, May 29, 2017 - 2:08pm

Lauren Doyle
(Photo by Bridget Dowd - KJZZ)
Lauren Doyle leads a weekend session of cat yoga at La Gattara Cat Cafe.

Just about everyone has heard that yoga’s combination of stretches, movements and breathing exercises can help with stress and anxiety.

But La Gattara Cat Cafe in Tempe is combining the exercise with another natural stress reducer: cats.

“It’s just a fun thing to do,” said cafe owner Melissa Pruitt. “You come do yoga but you’ve got a cat sitting on your back. It’s really cool.”

Pruitt says the idea for her business came from her trips to Japan, where she says there’s a cat cafe on just about every corner.

“Yoga is excellent for mind, body and spirit to come together and cats are just an additional plus,” said Peaches Sloan, a yoga instructor at La Gattara.

Sloan has been teaching yoga for 25 years and involved with cat rescue for even longer. She’s on the board of directors for All About Animals, a rescue that has partnered with the cafe.

“It’s a great gathering for the community to come together and just enjoy themselves and be in the company of cats and just build community,” Sloan said.

It seems simple. Listening to some calming music, moving between yoga poses and every so often reaching over and pet the kitten playing nearby.

But the company of a cat has a calming effect beyond the fluffy tail and fuzzy paws.

Angela Pergola is a licensed professional counselor who has recommended companion animals to several clients with anxiety and depression throughout her 10 years in practice.

“Having a companion animal can provide the company that they need to heal,” Pergola said. “That’s why they bring companion animals into a hospital setting, that’s why they bring them into nursing homes. Because it’s a place where people maybe don’t have connection and connection is what fuels us as human beings.”

Valley resident Jennifer Gniffke attended a weekend session of cat yoga at the cafe.

“It was fun,” she said. “It was good exercise of course but also just a good time with the cats.”

Gniffke has two cats of her own and said she felt refreshed after the class.

“I would love to bring my family here and grab a cup of coffee or treats for the kids and hang out with cats,” Gniffke said.

The cats at La Gattara are from local rescues and available for adoption to customers. Pruitt says she hopes the business will continue to grow as both a fun hangout spot and a place for education about cat behavior. She says in a few months the cafe will be completely “catified.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: A photo caption on this story has been modified to correctly identify yoga instructor Lauren Doyle.