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.
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.
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.
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.
Foster for a while—or furever!
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.