Kids reading to shelter cats is the sweetest thing you'll see today

We all know animals are good for our well being. It’s often said people who own pets are less stressed, and may even live longer as a result. Plus, nothing spells happiness like returning home after a long day and being greeted by a wagging tail or a soft, feline headbutt to the shins.

But have you ever stopped to consider these happy benefits could work in reverse? Thanks to a reading program at a primary school in Pennsylvania, USA, homeless shelter cats are receiving some much-needed love and friendship from local children.

The “Book Buddies” program, which started last year, encourages students from Year 1 to Year 8 to read aloud to cats at the Animal Rescue League (ARL) of Berks County. It’s a winning situation for everyone involved – the children have a chance to practise their reading, while the cats are comforted and soothed by their rhythmic sound of their voices.

According to an ARL spokesperson, the initiative was inspired by a child of the shelter’s program coordinator, who was having trouble reading. “We took him to the cat room and said, ‘Why don’t you practice reading here? The cats aren’t going to care if you mess up,” Beth Ireland told TIME magazine.

Excuse us while we re-stock our ravaged tissue boxes.

The kids are rewarded with a small prize when they have completed five books. The cats? They’re rewarded with the kindness and affection their lives have lacked. As you can see in some of these photos, they also love having a real-live human to climb all over. Win!