FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Cats aren’t always looked at as the best listeners, but at the Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control shelter, they are the most invaluable set of ears during the shelter’s “Read to the Animals,” event.

“Read to the Animals is one of the most popular programs here at the shelter,” said Abigail Reyes, Community Relations and Education Director.

The event pairs young students who are building confidence in their reading voice with pets like cats or smaller caged animals so that the young students have a stress-free listener for their reading.

“I feel like I’m reading to other people,” said Hugo Cervantes, a 10-year-old participant in the program.

Hugo was reading to a 10-year-old cat named Speedy as Erika Cervantes, Hugo’s mom, proudly watched on.

“It’s a great way for children to boost their self-esteem,” Erika said.

The program runs twice a month after demand increases from learning readers like Hugo.

“It started off a few years ago and it was only offered once a month,” Reyes said. “Parents and teachers noticed that it helped their students.”

The program is one of a few that run on donations to Animal Care and Control, funds are raised through events that they run throughout the year.

“It’s a free program, part of our education program that is all donation-based,” Reyes said. “What we love about it is that because it’s a free program it really reaches out to the community.”

You can find more information on those events, and how to support animal care and control on their website.