Spring is here, the season of rebirth. And birth. And as much as we gush about how cute all the kittens are, it can turn cat rescuers, shelter staff and volunteers, and animal advocates in general into real sourpusses when we consider the stress on resources and the possibility of the kitties having to take a forever cat nap because there’s simply no room.

In our own shelter at Long Beach Animal Care Services, the cat volunteers and staff members will likely push as hard as the dog people have to prevent euthanasia when kittens have filled every inch of space that the dogs haven’t overflown into. The past couple of weeks have emotionally exhausted everyone who works for the animals, whether it’s paid work or volunteer, and there’s more ahead.

So what do you do when you want people to come in, adopt a pet, and learn about sheltering and rescue in the best way possible? You promise fun! Fun’s a better way to lure people in than wailing and rending clothes—in this spirit, LBACS and a local cat rescue will each host a neat themed event on consecutive days this weekend, so you can attend both.

graphic showing a dog and a cat in bunny ears announcing an Easter egg hunt for April
Courtesy of LBACS

On Saturday, April 1, the shelter invites you and your family—leave your own pets at home, of course—to their Easter Egg Hunt Adoption Event (see above graphic for details). Put on your bunny ears and bring unopened treats for the baskets of the shelter’s dogs, cats and rabbits. Guests will decorate eggs, hunt up a few more, and hop around to a background of lively music. You can adopt a pet with no adoption fee this weekend.

Here are a few Easter eggs, cooked up by shelter manager Staycee Dains, for you to crack open before you scramble over there:

  • “The city is the first rescue. The city shelter takes in sick, injured animals and provides them lifesaving care. LBACS has two veterinarians on staff, several other contracted veterinarians, and four RVTs registered veterinary technician to help meet the immediate needs of those sick and injured animals, giving them a chance at life.
  • Only 15% of animals ever make it back to their families after they are brought to the shelter. But the shelter saves between 85% and 95% of animals entering the facility.
  • LBACS is open for all walk-in adoptions Wednesdays through Sundays, 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m.–3 p.m. on weekends. Appointments haven’t been required since May 2022.
  • The property’s setup sometimes confuses visitors. The grounds house two separate organizations: LBACS, the city shelter; and spcaLA, a private rescue. Each has separate facilities, staff and goals. If you’re not sure where you are, ask someone with a badge, an apron, or anything that designates them as an employee or a volunteer.
  • Any caring person in good standing with LBACS can adopt or foster a pet, Dains said. People are encouraged to foster pets anywhere from a few hours to a few months—even for an afternoon. “You don’t have to take a dog for life                    —you can just take them out for lunch!” Dains said.
  • And the freshest, tastiest egg of all: This past week, 10 dogs were saved from euthanasia for space because people came to adopt them. “We can only save the lives the community helps us save,” Dains said.
poster advertising a baby shower for newborn kittens
Courtesy of The Little Lion Foundation

On Sunday, April 2, The Little Lion Foundation will hold its Kitten Baby Shower from 11 a.m.–1 p.m. at Tap24 Bar & Grill (see above graphic for details). The shower is held for the babies, of course, and the proceeds will help provide food and medical care for the orphaned newborns and nursing mothers that Little Lion takes in all year, particularly between February and October, which bookend kitten season.

Cats are notoriously prolific. An unaltered female can birth about three litters a year, with an average of five kittens per litter. Estimate the number of cats you’ve seen wandering the neighborhood and multiply it by umpteen, and you’ll get the idea of kitten season. To temper the tide, female cats need to be spayed, and because each female can be impregnated by various males during heat, the males need to be neutered, too.

The kittens, sometimes with mothers attached, come in to shelters and rescues from the street and from homes that allow unfixed cats to roam. If shelters have no space and rescues don’t have enough fosters, the cats be turned away or euthanized. If you think you’ve found an orphaned litter, wait around a few hours and keep an eye out for Mom, who might be out hunting or just getting away from the kids for a while. If the mother doesn’t return after a few hours, the kittens will need nourishment—DIY kitten-care kits assembled by Helen Sanders CatPAWS and provided by LBACS are available to anyone wanting to bottle-feed orphaned kittens they’ve found. Email [email protected] for information.

Ideally, kitten season could be greatly mitigated through TNR (trap/neuter and spay/return) of the adult cats. But a cat’s cradle of complications—too many unaltered cats roaming the streets, too few trappers conducting TNR, too few appointments for spay/neuter for the adults and kittens old enough for the procedure—that cat advocates wonder if a difference can be made.

“I’m in the trenches, so I see this every day, and my heart breaks,” said Claudia Otis, Little Lion’s founder.

Otis worries mainly about the cats and kittens in danger on the streets. Shelters, including LBACS, have begun practicing managed intakes because of the recent overcrowding, and not taking in healthy cats is part of this plan. These include community cats, which comprise strays and ferals.

“I completely understand leaving healthy community and free-roaming cats where they are, but I am concerned with the lack of support people are receiving for owned cats when they can no longer keep them,” Otis said. “These cats are being let go outside. Little Lion receives emails daily of people seeking help to rehome their pets, and there really isn’t any support for them. We currently have our Community Foster program, which allows people to use our rescue resources to rehome their pets, but this program is severely underfunded. People in a bind often cannot hold onto the cats so they end up outside.”

One more complication is too few bottle feeders—over half the animals euthanized in shelters are neonatal kittens.

Otis hopes that the Kitten Baby Shower will help with both financial and paws-on-the-ground support for newborn kittens. Little Lion will teach and provide support to anyone interested in fostering and bottle-feeding kittens.

If you want to learn more about conducting TNR or support the trappers engaged in it, visit the TNR booth at the Kitten Baby Shower.

Virtually pets

If you want to adopt a cat, please go for the adults. Kittens are usually the first to be adopted because of their cute, winning ways. But they all grow up to be cats, anyway, and the adults so deserve to go home. They’re also less likely to climb your leg when you’re dishing out their food and keep you up all night going for your feet.

Little Lion has adult cats for adoption, too. You can access this link for adoptables, advice and applications.

Mostly black tortoiseshell cat sits with a paw wrapped around her front on a ptatterned bedspread.
Paula, 4 years old, came to The Little Lion Foundation when she was abandoned at a community wellness event that Little Lion was participating in. Despite being abandoned by her previous human, she’s a love bug, a sweet, curvy tortie who loves to have her head, neck and chin scratched. Paula is reserved and shy at first, but as soon she finds her person, she’s a big cuddle bug. Currently, she’s best friends with her 16-year-old human foster brother. Paula would love to find her forever home and would do great as the only queen in her household. Paula could be your forever girl—could you be her forever human, for a change?
black cat with green eyes sits on gray surface and looks longingly into camera.
Mamba, 2 years old, loves humans so much. She gets close enough to you to smell their breath, even in the morning (ugh)! Mamba used to live on the street in a feral-cat colony but was not feral—she was a friendly neighborhood stray. She was so friendly to people that the feeder for that colony thought Mamba would make a great inside cat. Mamba loves her ball track toy and string toys, and even though she’s a little bit older, she still acts like a baby, loving to be cradled and snuggled and will purr-purr-purr for as long as you pet her. She’s a regular chatty Kathy and will strike up a conversation anytime you come into the room. She enjoys alone time during her naps and would be very happy as the only cat in the house.
Orange and white cat with huge ears sits on sofa and looks left.
Love, who can obviously hear everything, is only a year old. She was brought into the veterinarian’s office on Valentine’s Day with a severe injury to her neck. The office called The Little Lion Foundation and they immediately took her in. Luckily, Love survived her injuries and has been in the loving care of the organization’s founders, who have nursed her back to health. Despite what she has been through, she’s a super-sweet cat who loves attention and would do really well either with another cat in the home or alone if her humans are with her often.
Fluffy mediumhair tabico splays herself on a white satin bedspread in provocative position.
Oh, my. Cheyenne is 8 years old and knows what she likes—attention—and as you can see, she’ll do everything she can to get yours. She loves to cuddle and hang out with people. Cheyenne had a bad upper-respiratory infection before Little Lion found her, which caused injury to her eye. The eye has completely healed and no further treatment is necessary—she just has this unique look. Like many cats, Cheyenne enjoys companionship, and another friendly, adult cat in the home to keep her company would do her good, as she really dislikes being alone. Note her come-hither look.

Foster for a while—or furever!

smiling woman holds a baby rabbit, who is white with tan ears
Long Beach Animal Care Services foster coordinator Tabare Depaep cuddles Albert. Photo courtesy Long Beach Animal Care Services

If you’ve always wanted a pet but aren’t sure if you’re ready for a lifetime (the animal’s) commitment, or if you’re past the pet-roommate days for any reason, fostering might be a great way to go, especially with one or more of the kittens popping up during kitten season. Every one of the organizations listed below is in desperate need of fosters who’ll social them and help save their little lives. Who knows—maybe one of those lives will change your mind about the not-ready-for-roommate thing.

These nonprofits also regularly feature cat, dog and rabbit adoptions. As of now, adoptions are mainly by appointment. Click on the links for each rescue in case of updates or changes. These organizations operate through donations and grants, and anything you can give would be welcome. Please suggest any Long Beach-area rescues to add to the list. Keep in mind that the rescues are self-supporting and need donations and volunteer help. Most of them cannot accept found or unwanted pets. Contact Long Beach Animal Care Services for options.

Rescue list
white pit bull with pink muzzle stares at camera. Woman in black patterned mask peers out from behind.
Photo courtesy of SAFE Rescue TEam

Ally’s Animal Network

Bunny Bunch

Cat Cove

Friends of Long Beach Animals

Fix Long Beach

Feline Good Social Club

German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County

Helen Sanders CatPAWS

Ho’ola Dog Rescue

House of Broken Cookies

Jellicle Cats Foundation

K-9 Kismet

Little Lion Foundation

Live Love Animal Rescue

Long Beach Animal Care Services

Long Beach Spay and Neuter Foundation

Newborn Feline Rescue

Pet Food Express Cat Adoption Center

Pug Rescue of Korea

SAFE Rescue Team

Seal Beach Animal Care Center

Sparky and the Gang Animal Rescue


Stray Cat Alliance

Wrigley Kittens

Zazzy Cats