Mackenna Jordan, 8, pets Kaira at the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society’s Read-To-A-Cat event, held Monday in partnership with the Lewiston Public Library. Mackenna was engrossed in reading a Nancy Drew book to the cats. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — Kaira the cat was not particularly happy to be in the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society’s enclosed patio Monday. Another orange cat had taken a swipe at her when she got too close. No one would let her leave, so she took to staring pleadingly out the glass door.

Then 8-year-old Mackenna Jordan sat beside her and started to read out loud.

Finnley Jordan, 4, looks through a book as three cats lounge nearby listening to him during the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society’s Read-To-A-Cat event, held Monday in partnership with the Lewiston Public Library. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

After a few moments, Kaira laid down. When Mackenna began absently stroking her back, Kaira closed her eyes. They stayed that way for several minutes, Mackenna reading aloud from a Nancy Drew book while her furry partner grew a little happier with each turn of the page.

A Read-To-A-Cat success.

A half-dozen children and their parents braved Monday’s snowstorm to join Read-To-A-Cat, an hourlong event created by the Lewiston Public Library and the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society. The library signed up the kids. The humane society provided the cats and the space.

“It helps (the kids) with their reading skills, their talking skills, and it also gives some attention to the cats — the cats who will be like, ‘What’s happening here?'” said Sandy Graul, volunteer coordinator for the humane society. “It’s good social for both.”

While reading to animals isn’t uncommon — schools and libraries sometimes offer special programs that encourage kids to read to therapy dogs or other visiting pets — it is a new partnership for Lewiston’s library and humane society.

Gideon Guignard, 8, pauses his reading Monday afternoon to confirm the cat to which he is reading is paying attention at the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society’s Read-To-A-Cat event. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

On Monday, both kids and cats seemed happy with the arrangement.

“I really like cats,” said Gideon Guignard, 8, who brought with him his Christmas present — a book about a cat who teams up with a canine superhero.

He read to Coruscant, a normally talkative cat who dozed while Gideon recounted the adventures of Dog Man.

Across the room, Chloe Deraps-Chase, 7, read a Grumpy Cat picture book to a pair of gray cats snuggled together in a teepee. Nadia Deraps, 9, took her Dr. Seuss book to an orange cat.

With two dogs at home, Nadia said, this was a way for her to get some cat time.

Mackenna and Kaira sat by the door, where Kaira stopped pleading to get out and started drowse.

At home, Mackenna is used to reading to an animal — usually her dog. Not so much to her own two cats.

“Probably because they’re hiding,” she said.

A second Read-To-A-Cat event is scheduled for 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 9. Registration is available through the Lewiston Public Library.


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