Atlanta program gives kids chance to practice reading with cats

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Elly Wieseman, 9, and her 13-year-old brother Charlie admit they are crazy about cats.

"I love them," Charlie says.

So volunteering at Furkids Animal Rescue and Shelters is right up their alley. But there's more to this than just pussyfooting around. Elly and Charlie are here to practice reading, through a program called FurTales. Elly's partner is a feisty kitty named Cranny. And he's an avid listener. Cranny is one of 300 cats living here, waiting to be adopted.

"With all of the devices and technology today it is hard to get children to put that down and to pick up the book and read," founder and CEO of Fukids Sam Shelton said.  

And it's even harder if it's a challenging book.

"I thought I wouldn't mess up," says Charlie," but, um, I did, but it's OK."

And the audience? Well, they don't mind.

"There's no one here judging," Shelton says. "The cats certainly accept them for who they are and where they are in their reading ability."

Elly and Charlie's mother Emily Wieseman says coming here is making a difference in more than just the kids' reading skills.

"Instilling in them that giving back doesn't have to be monetary," she says. "That it's just as important to give of your time."

"It's really fun because I like being patient and waiting for the cats to come in my lap," Elly says.

But there is one catch.

"I really like giving back to the cats," Charlie says. "And so I've been begging my mom to adopt one cat."

Sorry Charlie, no luck. Still, that one-on-one time is crucial.

"These animals are sentient beings," Shelton says. "They can give love, they receive love. and they need that human interaction."

And for this bunch reading time is the cat's meow. Whatever the subject, for these two and four-legged friends alike, curling up with a good book is ... purr-fect.

You can find out more information about the program on the FurKids website.