Thursday, September 27, 2018

Guest Post: Kitty Party!

Author: Sara Soukup, Head of Youth Services, Lake Geneva Public Library

When I saw Fancy Nancy: Oodles of Kittens, I knew I wanted to have a Kitten Party at the Library.  I knew our local Lakeland Animal Shelter did outreach at some of the other libraries, and so I emailed them to ask if they could bring oodles of kittens to my library in July.  They said they could, for FREE. On the day of the program, not only did their volunteers bring tons of kittens, but they also brought kitty corrals to keep them in, which we spread through the room. They brought litterboxes for the corrals, and little toys for the kittens to play with. Before the children came in, they cut the kittens claws, and wiped them down with cleaning wipes. Then the kitties were ready for their adoring fans.

And there were so many fans! I did TRY to have preregistration. I capped my program at 50 people. But, I couldn’t turn away little ones who really wanted to come see the kitties! I kept adding more and more families to the list. Not everyone who registers comes, right? Well, we ended up with all 60 people who had signed-up, and a few summer camps and daycares who had not! We had so many people that they couldn’t all fit in the open space I had carved out for seating during the story part of the program.

So, I split them into two groups. I told them that the daycamps and daycares would play with the kittens first. I invited the families to hang out in the Picture Book Room to wait. I assured them that in a half hour we would switch.

Before I let the families leave, I gave everyone the rules:
1.      Kittens are babies. We don’t want to scare the babies, right? So we have to be quiet. Use your inside voices.
2.      Also, we’re not going to freak out. If a kitty crawls out of its pen, just gently put it back. Like that one right there… During this part of the program the pens were full of kittens showing us how good they were at climbing.
3.      If a kitten scratches you, don’t freak out. Put the kitten gently back in its pen and find your grown-up. We have a first aid kit, and you’ll be fine. Remember, these are babies!

At first, the day camp/daycare children sat in chairs lined up along the walls, and the volunteers from Lakeland handed out kittens. They showed the kids how to hold them. My teen volunteers helped distribute the kittens. While the kids were rowdy, I didn’t see anyone mistreat the kitties.

When a half hour had passed, I had the day camps/cares file out, and the families came in. The parents helped their children hold the kitties. One mom asked me to help her 4 and 6 year old how to hold a kitten. This was the first time they had ever done such a thing. It was adorable to hear the kitten start purring while her daughter held it. Finally, near the end of the program, a father came up to me and said, “I signed the papers.” He had adopted one of the kittens with his daughter! “It fell asleep while we were holding it. It was too cute. We sent pictures to her mom, and everything.”

 When the program was over, Lakeland cleaned up everything. They put all the kittens back into their kitten carriers. They packed up the litterboxes and kitty toys, and folded up the pens. It was so simple and fast.

This program was such a success that I plan to host it again next summer, with a few changes, of course.
·         Registration: One sheet for families, one sheet for daycamps/cares. ONLY 50 people per sheet. And only those people who are on the list may enter.
·         Time: The program for families will be from 2:00 pm.--2:45 pm. The program for daycamps/cares will be from 2:45 pm—3:30 pm.
·         Program: Just kitten cuddles, no crafts or storytime needed

All in all, this was a great program. We partnered with another organization in our community. We had amazing attendance. Set up and clean up was a breeze. And baby kitties found forever homes.

1 comment:

Julie said...

We did a similar thing last summer at Verona, a kitten cuddle room, and it was also really fun! In our case, it was one of a variety of activities for our summer reading kick-off party. We partnered with a local organization, but I did pay them $200. We set up space for a line, with the kittens in a study room, and each group of 10 people got to be in the kitten room for 4-5 minutes. This still meant the wait in line was over an hour long, and we had to cut it off. The kittens got a few breaks. The kids loved it! Sometimes I would mention that the kittens were available for adoption but a parent would cut me off and shush me. :)