CEDAR RAPIDS — Workplace perks can run the gamut, with tried-and-true staples ranging from on-site fitness facilities to communal snack bowls and coffee.
Possibly a more distinct benefit to office life, available to employees at Collins Community Credit Union’s 42nd Street NE branch, is the ability to visit a room full of chirrupy kittens when the daily doldrums start to set in.
For the last several years, branch compliance manager Sara Ochsner has brought kittens she’s fostering to her credit union office during the workday.
The felines are strays dropped off at Cedar Rapids Animal Care & Control, where Ochsner volunteers.
Ochsner estimates she’s brought at least 10 kittens into the credit union over the years — most recently, a quartet of 2-month-old tiger-striped kittens who spend their days roaming her office with boundless curiosity.
“I let them out of the cage to run around and play and get used to people,” she said, adding that this helps socialize the kittens so they one day will make better pets.
“For kittens like this, having them be here and having more people come in ... they get used to new people, and they’re not scared of new people, so it helps make them friendly cats.”
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Though the kittens are not seen to credit union members, Ochsner said her co-workers are aware of their branch’s furry guests and will regularly stop by to visit.
“I’ve had people come down just to pet a cat for a little stress relief,” she laughed.
The kittens go home with Ochsner each night, and remain her with until they reach 2 pounds. Then, she said, they can be spayed or neutered and put up for adoption into a “furever” home.
“I like to have the kittens here,” Ochsner said. “Obviously, I love animals, so I love helping them whenever I can, but it’s nice and stress-relieving to have them here in the office. It just makes it a fun work environment.”
Cedar Rapids Animal Care & Control’s city-run “open admission” shelter has room to hold 125 to 150 cats and is around capacity.
Collins Community Credit Union has 19 branches across Iowa, including six in Cedar Rapids and locations in Iowa City, Marion and North Liberty, according to its website.
The credit union in November announced plans to acquire a Savanna, Ill., bank in expanding into the western Illinois market, and is expected to complete work next year on a new Cedar Rapids headquarters at 1005 Blairs Ferry Rd. NE.
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