Long Beach cat rescue gives the gift of company to older adults in assisted living

Older adults, particularly ones residing in assisted-living and long-term care facilities, can be particularly vulnerable to pain and loneliness. Many have been separated from friends, family, their familiar neighborhoods and communities and favorite haunts. During the holiday season, loneliness and depression can be more pronounced even with the special programs and events that staff and management work hard to provide. The comfort-and-joy efforts during the holiday season aren’t the same as the ones they remember from before.

Kitten rescue Helen Sanders CatPAWS makes their own efforts all year long with kitten visits. CatPAWS has a long history of doing good for cats—their DIY Kitten Care Kits for newborn kittens, available for free at Long Beach Animal Care Services, saves hundreds of little lives; they assist Orange County Animal Care in handing out pet food to people in need; and of course, they pull more hundreds of kittens from shelters, and care for all their needs, and send them to loving homes. The kitten visits, dubbed CatPAWS Traveling Feline Comfort and Therapy Show by coordinator Mitch Cohen, make things good for humans, and the kittens get socialized with them as well.

The Traveling Show honors the memory of children’s book author, ardent cat lover and CatPAWS supporter Priscilla Maltbie, who died in 2014. Maltbie spent her final years in an assisted-living home where pets were not permitted. She desperately missed her cats and having cats around in general, so CatPAWS would bring kittens in to see her for frequent visits.

Blond woman in wheelchair, dressed in green jumper and striped shirt, pets large, fluffy brown-and-white cat in her lap.

Children’s author Priscilla Maltbie was the inspiration for the CatPAWS Traveling Feline Comfort and Therapy Show. Photo courtesy of Helen Sanders CatPAWS

 

For three years, volunteers and kittens trekked to Glen Park Senior residence in Long Beach. Then, the pandemic hit, and the visits stopped. When restrictions were finally lifted, CatPAWS added two more facilities to the venue list. Sunrise Senior Living in Seal Beach and Westmont in Cypress now join Glen Park once a month each for the type of entertainment that only kittens can provide.

The residents who attend appreciate the program as much as Maltbie did. They love interacting with the kittens, particularly if they miss having pets of their own.

They also take pleasure from cuddling a purring, furry body in their laps. The kittens, all of them adoptable, benefit from the socializing. Talk about spreading comfort and joy!

“Our visits with the Traveling Show are one way in which we give back to our community and bring much-needed joy and pleasure to the folks we visit,” Mitchell Cohen said. “I’m reminded of a favorite line from songwriter John Prine’s classic “Hello In There”:

Old people just grow lonesome,

Waiting for someone to say, “Hello in there, hello.”

kitten in blue blanket cuddled by figure in green shirt and tan pants with brown purse on lap. Person in wheelchair.

Hello in there. Photo courtesy of Helen Sanders CatPAWS.

 

Kittens have absolutely no problem doing that.

 Virtually pets

Meet a couple of the little celebrities and their older foster mates. All of them can come home with you from Helen Sanders CatPAWS. Access the adoption application here, and check out all the kitties waiting to star in your show as well!

brown tabby kitten with white chest and legs lies on orange surface. A flame-point Siamese lies next to him, her paw on his back.

Scrappy is the little Siamese-y girl in the front of the photo. CatPAWS has a photo of her by himself, but this was too dang cute to be—er, scrapped for that one. Scrappy’s friend Scooby was adopted earlier this week, so she’s a little lonely. As you can see, she gets along fine with other kittens, so you might want to take advantage of CatPAWS’ two-for-one deal!

 

orange kitten lies on a black rug, one paw stretched to reach a toy.

You know that orange cats are special! Soba is in this cat-egory, as you can see. He has nonstop personality and would be so happy to be home for the holidays!

 

brown tabby with solemn face lies cuddling a stuffed pig.

Must we say it? OK, we will: Marsha, Marsha, Marsha—a gorgeous girl of almost a year old. Marsha likes to lie in the sun at her foster home and would very much like a quiet home with quiet people.

 

Finally, there’s Peanut Butter—a good name for him because he loves spreading himself across your lap. He’s about 4 years old and is one of the best cats the rescue’s known. His sad story belies his genial, sweet disposition—he shared a home with five other cats, and when the human died, they were all relegated to a toolshed where they spent the next two years of their lives, being randomly visited and fed—fed pretty well, by the looks of PB’s girth. A CatPAWS volunteer discovered them and made various lifesaving arrangements for the housemates, but this guy had to be her foster! Here’s another volunteer at play–she barely had time to mop up the spilled water from the floor before Peanut Butter demanded his “jelly rub”!

 

 Deck the bowls with bones and tuna: Festivities featuring fur friends

Santa Claus with a white puppy in his arms.

Santa’s Give a Little, Get a Lot vaccine clinic and food giveaway: 11 a.m.4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 4, Fix Long Beach, 1749 Magnolia Ave. Long Beach, vax prices vary.

In conjunction with the nonprofit Fix’n Fidos and Petco retail pet supplies, low-cost spay/neuter clinic Fix Long Beach is offering a drive-thru vaccine clinic, free flea meds and pet food giveaway while the supplies last. For dogs, four vaccines and microchip: $50; for cats, two Vaccines and microchip: $30

Whiskers in Wonderland: 4–6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 5,, Boathouse on the Bay, 190 N. Marina Drive., Long Beach,, $65, order tickets here.

The pandemic has brought with it so many struggles for independent rescues along with the rest of our community near and far. The Little Lion Foundation, which rescues and raises newborn kittens and their “teenage” and adult counterparts, is one of the all-volunteer organizations that has not been stopped from answering the call for help time and time again in an effort to lend a hand to as many cats as possible. During the giving season, Little Lion is hosting this event to celebrate the volunteers that ask for nothing but good for the cats and to raise funds for the rescue to continue in its efforts. The event will be held outdoors at the restaurant and will include a silent auction, hors d’oeuvres, bar drinks and a chance to meet some of our Little Lions

Seal Beach Animal Care Center Annual Holiday Bake Sale: 11 a.m.4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 4, SBACC parking lot, 1700 Adolfo Lopez Drive, various prices for items.

Help fund this all-volunteer shelter in the tastiest, coziest way! Even though the cats and dogs didn’t have a paw in making the goodies, they’ll be most delighted to benefit from the sales! Every penny goes to them.

Second Annual Home for the Pawlidays pet adoption and craft fair: Saturday, Dec. 11, The Hangar at the Long Beach Exchange, 4150 McGowen St., Long Beach, free to attend, item prices vary.

District 5 councilwoman Stacy Mungo has joined fur-ces with The Cat Cove and The Little Lion Foundation pet rescues to present this wonderful opportunity to do some holiday shopping and, of course, to take home someone furry and adorable to share your season with! Shop for crafts and check out a few adoptables. Spaces are still available for local crafters who may want to take advantage of this prime shopping location in a high-foot-traffic area. Space is limited so reserve yours today. Find out space and cost details, and fill out an application here.

 Just fur fun and fur-ther education

Courtesy photo

 Jackson Galaxy’s Winter Camp: 11 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 4, and 2 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 5, online, $10 per webinar.

 Animal Planet puurrr-sonality extraordinaire Jackson Galaxy and animal-companion loss-recovery specialist Stephanie Rogers will be camp counselors, with emphasis on the “counselor” part, for two seminars, one that helps human companions deal with the loss of a beloved animal and another that stresses the stressors that stress out people dealing with rescue and all the accompanying headaches. Raise a Glass: Grief and the Healing Power of Ritual During the Holidays offers rituals and activities to honor departed beloved pets; and Saving Yourself So You Can Continue To Save Animals: Cumulative Grief in Animal Service focuses on the truism of you not being able to save anyone if you’re falling apart. To register, click on the links by the seminar names.

 

Help wanted, help given

Volunteers of many stripes needed at Helen Sanders CatPAWS

Want to spend a few hours playing with cats? How about brightening the day of a bunch of senior citizens with kitten visits? Fostering cats because you aren’t sure you want to keep one but wish you could have one ever so briefly in your life (and yes, you could change your mind and keep them forever). Delivering pet food to needy shelters? Assembling do-it-yourself newborn-kitten-care kits, and maybe bottle-feeding a few? Kennel cleaning (whee!)? Lend a paw to CatPAWS—fill out the volunteer application at this link.

Volunteer walkers needed for senior citizens’ dogs

Ida’s Walkers is a program of The Heart of Ida, a 501c3 nonprofit organization serving the older-adult population in and around Long Beach. Ida’s Walkers offers dog-walking services to low-to-moderate-income seniors who are hospitalized, have limited mobility, or are at risk of falling. If you want to help senior citizens keep their beloved pets as long as they are able to live at home, call 562-370-3548.

Fix Long Beach low-cost pet-services clinics: selected days and times, 1749 Magnolia Ave., Long Beach, services available by appointment at www.fixlongbeachpets.com.

Fix Long Beach is taking appointments for low-cost spay/neuter, dental, vaccines and other vet needs for cats and dogs. Vaccination clinics take place on the second and fourth Thursday of each month. Visit their webpage or Facebook page for details.

DIY Kitten Care Kits available free at Long Beach Animal Care Services

Kitten season is still in bloom, and shelters and rescues are scrambling to save little lives, get them fixed, get them adopted. It isn’t unusual to find nests of young, seemingly abandoned kittens during kitten season. It is a natural reaction to want to help, to save them. If you are interested in obtaining a Kitten Care Kit made possible by Helen Sanders CatPAWS, please email [email protected].

Spay/neuter vouchers available at shelter

Long Beach Animal Care Services has spay/neuter vouchers available. They’ll take a healthy nip out of the cost of a procedure. Residents of any of the five cities served by the shelter can telephone the general number at 562-570–7387 to request a voucher.

Spay/neuter appointments available at SNP/LA

The Spay/Neuter Project of Los Angeles (SNP/LA) offers free and low-cost spay/neuter services, and they’re extending the hours of their vaccination clinics. The San Pedro clinic will give shots between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. every third Thursday at 957 N. Gaffey St. Call 310-574–5555 to see if you qualify for services.

If you can see the bottom of the kibble bag

Pets of the Homeless’s home page gives a self-description as the only organization focusing only on providing food and care for pets belonging to homeless people. Businesses and other organizations across the country receive in-kind donations of food and other needs that the dogs and cats’ human families can pick up at outreach locations. The following Long Beach businesses will accept your donations:

Trendi Pawz, 3726 E. Seventh St., Long Beach

Belmont Heights Animal Hospital, 255 Redondo Ave., Long Beach

Paw Shoppe Pet Center, Inc., 6416 E. Spring St., Long Beach

Food and supplies are available Mondays from 9:00 a.m. to noon and Saturdays from noon to 3:00 p.m. at Beacon for Him Ministries, 1535 Gundry Ave. Long Beach; and Thursdays from 9 to 11 a.m. at Christian Outreach in Action, 515 E. Third St., Long Beach, Donations will be gratefully accepted at these locations as well.

Adopt, adopt, adopt

In-furson events

smiling woman with short, black hair and wearing sunglasses, a green apron, a white shirt and blue jeans sits on a bench next to a large, black dog with a tan chest and legs in front of a blue-and-beige building.

Mary has been volunteering at LBACS since January 2017, and she volunteered at Pasadena Humane Society for two years before that. She loves working with all the dogs, but especially the seniors. She said that she’s constantly amazed at how resilient dogs are and how willing they are to trust us. “The volunteer crew at LBACS are the kindest and most dedicated people I know!” Mary said.
Mary is here with Forrest, age 5. “He was found wandering around wearing a muzzle, and he had a large mass on his back that had ulcerated,” Mary said. “He was very scared and ran from the officers trying to help him—run Forrest run! Vet staff removed the mass, and he has totally healed up and all the fur has grown back. He’s totally blossomed at the shelter…truly one of the gentlest dogs I’ve ever met. He takes treats from your hand so gingerly and politely. He’s a perfect walker on leash—no pulling—and takes direction easily. After our walk, we usually find a shady spot to sit, and he stretches out on the grass next to me happily.” Photo by Dee Glick

 

In-person adoptions at shelter open house: 10 a.m.–1 p.m., Dec. 4, Long Beach Animal Care Services, 7700 E. Spring St. at entrance to El Dorado Park, Long Beach, adoption fees apply, no parking fee for shelter visitors.

 Adoptions at our shelter and many shelters across the country now must make adoption through appointment. For those who want to meet their new best friend in their life in person, now’s your chance! Our shelter is crowded with cats and dogs who need to find their own best friends badly, and there are some rabbits, too! You could meet virtually nose to nose, but masks are mandatory, so you can do the schnoz poke when you both get home!

Long Beach Animal Care Services’ Adoption Waggin: 10 a.m.–2 p.m., second Saturday of each month, Pet Supplies Plus, 2086 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach; 10 a.m..–2 p.m., last Saturday of each month, VBurger, 420 Cherry Ave., Long Beach, adoption fees apply

 The shelter’s favorite glamping vehicle for cats and dogs has been making the scene twice a month. Adopt at the locations and find either everything you need for your pet or a fine vegan lunch.

Pet Food Express Cat Adoption Center: 10 a.m.–8 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays, and 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Sundays., Pet Food Express, 4220 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach, adoption fees apply.

This adoption center is a much-needed satellite operation of Long Beach Animal Care Services. Julie and her team pull adoptable cats—”adoptable,” to these guys, means any cat in a shelter kennel! The team socializes the kitties until they’re adopted, which takes less time than you could imagine!

Helen Sanders CatPAWS adoption centers: viewable daily during store hours, playtime Saturdays and Sundays between noon and 3:00 p.m., PetSmart, 12341 Seal Beach Blvd., Seal Beach; Petco Marina Shores, 6500 Pacific Coast Highway, third Saturday of every month between 1 and 3 p.m., Long Beach, adoption fees apply.

Window-shopping’s a neat pastime and likely has become more common during the pandemic. Helen Sanders CatPAWS has applied window-shopping to cat adoption; you can peer at several of the fine felines through the windows of the PetSmart adoption center in Seal Beach, and now, you can finally visit with them, scratch their little ears, and rub them under their chinny-chin-chins on Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m. Visitors to Petco Marina Shores every third Saturday of the month can see them running around their playpens and cuddle them, too. Volunteers will answer questions and provide you with adoption information! Be sure to wear a mask. You can find adoption applications and all the kitties here.

Nota bon-e—fosters are needed everywhere!

two dogs and a cat on one border, two cats and two dogs on other. Caption says, "May we couch-surf at your place?"

May we couch-surf at your place?

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. Fosters are needed for kittens as well. 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.

 

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Kate Karp is the Pets Columnist for the Long Beach Post covering the world of animal activism, pet adoptions and lots of cute cats. She’s called Long Beach home since 1994 and has written for the Post for about 10 years. Kate’s day job is as a copyeditor, which she discovered a love for during her 30-year tenure as a teacher. She describes the job as “like taking the rough edges off a beautiful sculpture.”
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