Children are reading to traumatised cats in Berlin - and both are flourishing

Children are reading to traumatised cats in Berlin - and both are flourishing

It’s been a pretty heavy-going week, so we thought we’d share some happy, feel-good news with you for the weekend, about an animal shelter in Berlin that’s spreading joy to both children and pets with its new project. Warning: this one’s a real tear-jerker…

Children read to cats at Tierheim Berlin

The idea behind the Tierheim Berlin’s new “Children Read to Cats” project is simple - help children who struggle with their reading, while also helping some of their more traumatised animals regain their trust in humans. 

Since launching last summer, the project has been an unmitigated success. Five children are already signed up to read to the cats every Friday for around 30 minutes. They get a room to themselves where they can practice reading aloud, away from anyone who might interrupt or correct them. 

Rhythmic voices can help to calm cats

Their only witnesses are some of the shelter’s more timid and traumatised cats. The idea is that, through regular contact with humans, the cats will get more used to being around them and even allow themselves to be touched and stroked. This will greatly improve their chances of being adopted in the future. 

“Studies have proven that rhythmic voices on cats have a calming effect,” explains Bettina Genée, one of the project’s volunteer workers. “Many cats have experienced traumas and are anxious. By reading together, [the cats and the children] can approach each other and build trust.” 

The offer is currently aimed at all students living in the area aged between seven and 12 years. “Every child who wants to join is welcome,” says spokesperson Annette Rost. “It’s great that both children and animals benefit from the offer.” It’s free to participate in the project, but the animal shelter is also happy to receive any donations. 



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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