Fundraising 101: Bring Kittens

Cat climbing on an attendee’s back while they are in a yoga positionDon’t Stress Meowt! 
 
No, that wasn’t a typo.  Don’t Stress Meowt was the name for a cat yoga fundraiser that Taylor Damaren, a student at UWaterloo was more than eager to host last month! 
 
Taylor, a cat lover and mental health advocate, was trying to come up with ideas for a fundraiser that would be fun and beneficial.  So, why not try and combine two things she’s passionate about? 
 
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to sit down with Taylor and chat about her initiative.  She was super sweet and enthusiastic, and you can see that shine through in her responses. 

What program and year are you in?

This is my sixth year in school! I studied three years of Anthropology and Sociology at Laurier before I transferred to Waterloo for Social Development Studies, so this is my third year at Waterloo.

Are there any organizations or clubs you’re a part of? 

I’m the Education and Workshops Director at the Women’s Centre

What inspired you to run a cat yoga fundraiser?

I’ve wanted to run a fundraiser for a while to raise money for a mental health foundation.  I saw other places in Canada hosting cat yoga — and no one’s done it in the area yet!  I thought this would be an amazing idea, because cats are proven to help anxiety — and so does yoga. 

What was the experience like?  From organizing to the event the day of to any aftermath?

Taylor holding a cat from the Humane SocietyIt was difficult at first!  I didn’t think it would be easy for people to donate space for this fundraiser. Though, it was a lot of fun at the same time.  

Getting the cats was the first step. The Humane Society was super excited and totally on board.  Also, Hepcat Swing Dance Studio was so eager to donate space!  Then, I met a yoga instructor through my friend, and there was no hesitation there either. 
 
Once everything came together, it was a lot of fun to plan and advertise.  Oh — and it sold out, and that felt really awesome.
 
Everything went smoothly; the kittens were hilarious!  They flew around for the first session, but got a little tired for the second one.  I think people had a lot of fun with the cats, more so than the actual yoga.

What makes you most proud of this event?

I was really proud that I was able to get everything donated.  I was really starting to worry that I had to pay for space, so the fact that it came together was amazing. 

Where did the proceeds go?

We raised $1,600 in total!  The proceeds were split half and half for the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society and Waterloo Wellington’s Here 24/7 Mental Health Crisis Line.
 

What can students do to support more initiatives like yours? 

If someone would like to host another cat yoga fundraiser, talk to the Humane Society!  They would love to help where they can. 
Don’t forget to also check out Here 24/7. They assist with setting up appointments or referrals to health professionals for you — I found that so helpful, and that’s why I wanted to give them funding.  

Alright - last but not least, did any of the kittens get adopted? 

Yes!  Two of the kittens got adopted during the fundraiser, and the third one got adopted a little bit later! 
 

Today is Mental Health Wellness Day!  The University of Waterloo is hosting several events all over campus throughout the day to raise awareness and help end the stigma against mental health.  There are free fitness classes all day at PAC, so drop by and see if you can participate in some yoga!

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