Fireworks tips for you and your pets, and a few cats to take home with you


Virtually Pets

Every year around this time, the Friday adoption column features tips for managing pets’ reactions to the hellish noises from fireworks. Cats, dogs and rabbits are frightened and confused by fireworks blasts every year for what’s now a couple of months before and after July 4. A few people on social media reported reports on Mother’s Day. I’m sure Mom appreciated the thought.

People who set them off seem to feel that the Fourth of July is an excuse for causing mayhem and panic in animals and humans. When military-combat veterans set out to fight for rights, they surely weren’t considering the freedom of others to send their minds and psyches back to the horrors of the battlefield. No wonder that the term “war zone” appears with frequency on social-media pages and discussions involving illegal fireworks.

One poster on social media nailed it pretty well. “Please let me state for all of us, this is not 2 nights,” the post read in part. “Let’s focus on that this has started in late MAY, it will be all of June and July. I am exhausted with people trivializing this just because it does not bother them. One told me to stop talking about it, there are bigger issues right now. They are missing that it is the convergence of ALL the issues and all are contributing to our physical, mental and social health. There are many people for whom explosions trigger, such as Veterans in our city, people with PTSD.”

The poster wrote that caring for their cat and dog during July 3 and 4 had always been paramount. This year, though, the cat had been crouching in the litter box for 10 days as of the writing, and their 85-pound dog was shaking uncontrollably and fell off the couch, spraining her right rear leg. The poor animal is “now hobbling on three.”

Reports from people about their pets are heartbreaking. Animals hide in bathrooms, run around and pant, drool uncontrollably. It was particularly painful to read posts about disabled pets. One, a blind cat, becomes confused and walks in circles, crying and needing to be held whenever a blast lands within earshot of her home.

Anyway, the tips. I’ve updated a couple of them:

  • Make sure your pets are wearing identification, including the name and current telephone number of the owner. Confirm that your pet’s microchip information is registered or updated. If your pet isn’t chipped, get them chipped. Fix Long Beach gives out microchips for free, and they’re having a clinic Saturday, June 20.
  • This is the year of self-quarantine. Include your pets—do not let them outdoors except for dog walks on a sturdy leash and harness. If you have a yard, check the gates to be sure they’re escape-proof—ideally, your pets shouldn’t be outside without you being at home. You don’t want them to run off and become a “holiday” casualty.
  • If your dog is crate-trained, put them in a crate covered with a blanket. You can try out Thundershirts for both dogs and cats—they’re pet-swathing vests created to reduce anxiety. They run upward of $40 in price. I’ve never tried them on the cats, but people I know have used them for their pets and like them. Social media posts recommend wrapping your pet in a snug-fitting shirt, an ACE bandage or any piece of material if the Thundershirt isn’t in your budget. There are videos online for the wrapping procedures.
  • Create as peaceful environment as you can in your home. Play soothing music, and lower the blinds to block outside sights and sounds. If your pet seems anxious, spend time with them, speaking in a calm voice. Close your windows, which can be a pain if there’s no air conditioning, or put them in a room during explosion times with a fan running, preferably a loud one. Put in a favorite toy or an article of your clothing that they’re used to.
  • Suggestions for calming treats, lavender, Benadryl, CBD oil and meds pepper the internet and social media, but anything your pet ingests should be through recommendation of a professional. “Some of these can be helpful, but ‘natural’ does not equal ‘safe,’” advised Dr. Greg Perrault, veterinarian at Cats and Dogs Animal Hospital. He also warned that Benadryl doesn’t have the same sedating effect on dogs that it does on humans. For any medications, holistic or otherwise, please speak to your vet. They know what’s up.
  • This year, the state health order doesn’t allow large gatherings, so Long Beach isn’t issuing permits for professional fireworks shows. Unless the order changes, there won’t be any pyrotechnics at the Queen Mary or likely on July 3 at Boathouse on the Bay for John Morris’ event. It’s moot, then, to list the usual cautionary about bringing your dog to the beach to enjoy the fireworks with you (because they won’t), but I’m doing it anyway. Besides, there are enough places to avoid right now.
gunmetal gray pit bull raises muzzle mournfully to camera. She sts on a white rug with furniture and wood floor behind her.

Mango, adopted from Long Beach Animal Care Services by our features writer and city reporter Jason Ruiz, is on what Jason calls dog Xanax, which is some concoction he got from the vet. “We started giving it to her two days ago, and it’s been pretty fantastic,” Jason said. “She notices the noises but doesn’t start shaking and panting. She doesn’t seem doped up, either—she still wants snacks and still gets up to follow me around the house and will do the occasional wooooooo.” This, Jason said, is  Mango’s woo face. Photo by Jason Ruiz.

After rereading the list, I became really cheesed off that, first, people have to take precautions for themselves and their kids and pets because of the unnecessary bad behavior of other people; and second, that the only thing that’ll make any difference is stopping illegal fireworks altogether, and I’m no optimist. But there are two ongoing efforts to deal with the effects of the banging and crashing, one to educate and the other to mitigate.

‘My house was actually shaking every 5 minutes:’ Two local groups use education and activism to drown out fireworks noise

This is, after all, an adoption column. I’ve been featuring cats a lot lately because, besides dealing with pets becoming terrified, running off, and winding up at the shelter (if they’re lucky); other people turning their own pets in; and for all practical purposes being closed to the public because of pandemic restrictions, Long Beach Animal Care Services is dealing with kitten season.  Kittens and nursing mothers are again overrunning shelters, and rescues and fosters are doing their best to help. Kitty Katchers is an independent nonprofit that’s been running under the radar of late, but I’ve known the founder for years, and she’s in part responsible for my foster-failing a horrible little tortie kitten who’s now four years old and the sweetheart of my home. Her name’s Francine Fishpaw. Her organization pulls cats out of the most dire situations and do the whole Cinderella (or Cinder-fella) thing with them.

To return the favor, meet a few Kitty Katcher katches. Hope one of them catches your heart and goes home to huddle and snuggle with you.

cat with striped patches on eyes, white fur and ears obscured by top of camera sits on pebbled pastel rug on bed.

Ally is a petite cat with a sweet personality. She is the ultimate lap kitty—loves to cuddle and lick you to no end. If you’re looking for a companion, Ally is the cat for you.  She was found in an alley in Long Beach—she had a tipped ear, which indicated that she had been trapped, fixed and returned. However, she continually tried to escape her happy foster home. After several doctor visits, it was found that Ally was never spayed and was in heat, which was the reason for her wacky behavior. This lovely little cat is fully recovered and will make anyone a perfect companion.


white cat with small black mark on top of head sits tall on mat.

Betty Boop is a survivor—one of the only kittens who made it through a highly fatal feline disease. She also survived five days in the rain and freezing temperatures stuck under a deck during Thanksgiving last year. She was traumatized for months after that ordeal but is now fully recovered. Betty Boop is now a happy little cat looking for a forever home. She’s a lot like a dog in so many ways: She comes when you call her, licks your hands, plays with her toys and carries them all over the house. She also loves to cuddle and will keep you entertained every day, with never a dull moment.


tiny orange tiger cat with white muzzle and chest and pink nose lies on white blanket and looks at camera.

This is Pickles O’Reilly. He’s 5 to 8 weeks old and is a resilient little guy with an extraordinary will to survive. Pickles was found lying motionless under a car in the streets of Long Beach. Kitty Katchers immediately took him to the vet, where it was discovered that he had suffered blunt-force trauma consistent with being thrown from a car or kicked. He had bruised lungs and couldn’t move his legs or paws. He was also dehydrated, flea infested and malnourished. After several days in the hospital, he began showing signs of improvement, slowly moving his back legs and eating on his own. He has a long way to go and is still unable to walk or move his front paws. “We hope that with a lot of love and medical attention, he can overcome this terrible injustice,” Kitty Katchers said.


Contributions for both Pickles O’Reilly’s medical bills and general expenses for Kitty Katchers are welcomed here. To apply to adopt any of these little guys, all of whom have been fixed, vaxxed and otherwise vetted, email [email protected] or call 562-507-9267.


Pet Projects

If you can see the bottom of the kibble bag:

Cupboard as bare as your wallet, and your poor dog needs far more than a bone? Your cat refusing to dine on mice? Friends of Long Beach Animals will have its pet-food giveaway at the Masonic Lodge, 3610 Locust Ave., Long Beach on June 20 at noon until there’s no more food! The organization thanks the community, Centinela Pets and the ASPCA for their generous donations during their May food drive. The donated food will help feed our community’s pets. Get there quick— you’d be surprised at how quickly over four tons of food (yup, four tons!) can go!

West Coast Toyota of Long Beach bought $3,000 worth of pet food last month to deliver to people in need in our community. If anyone you know is in this position, take a photo of the food you give to your pet, and include your name, contact information and a brief description of your work situation to [email protected]. Fix’n Fidos will deliver the food to you or arrange for you to pick it up.

Helen Sanders CatPAWS offers, through specific private donors, e-gift cards for people struggling during the crisis to buy food for their pets. The CatPAWS Spay/Neuter Fund, also privately funded, has vouchers available for anyone not able to go to the shelter for them. They also accept donations.

Pets of the Homeless‘ 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 at Beacon for Him Ministries, 1535 Gundry Ave. Long Beach, Mondays from 9 a.m. to noon and Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m.; and at Christian Outreach in Action, 515 E. Third St., Long Beach, Thursday from 9 to 11 a.m. Donations will be gratefully accepted at these locations as well.

Help wanted, help given

Fix Long Beach returns to hosting free spay/neuter clinics to support the pets of our community members who need help caring for them. This month, a clinic dedicated to fixing cats (yay, cats!) will take place in the new location at a private business located at a private business at 1749 Magnolia Ave., Long Beach. Saturday, June 20, 9 a.m.–1 p.m. As with all clinics, this one will have available vaccines for either species at $10 each, $10 flea meds, $5 nail trimming and free microchips! With the fireworks season in full, horrible swing, a microchip is the best way to ensure that your pet gets home if they run off, scared! In order to comply with COVID-19 recommendations and for the safety of our clients and volunteers, everyone will be required to wear a mask and the clinics will be drive-thru only. Dogs must be on sturdy leashes, and cats must be confined in dedicated carriers. Enter the clinic from the alley only—do not enter or wait at the front of the building. Volunteers will handle drop-off and pickup. Appointments aren’t needed for vaccines and the other services. Vouchers that require a minimal copayment will also be available. Visit us here to make appointments for a spay/neuter procedure and for other information. Long Beach Animal Care Services is seeking individuals to join a rescue task force that would visit neighborhoods to reunite lost pets with their owners and also alert them to resources for needs such as spay and neuter, pet training, food and medical care. Anyone wanting to help people help their pets should contact the shelter’s manager at [email protected] and let her know how you’d like to help in this effort.

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—(see above)—can telephone the general number at 562-570-7387 to request a voucher.

The Spay/Neuter Project of Los Angeles (SNP/LA) is back in business for free and low-cost spay/neuter services, and they’re extending the hours of their vaccination clinics. Beginning June 18, the San Pedro clinic, located at 957 N. Gaffey St., will give shots every third Thursday between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. Call 310-574-5555 to see if you qualify for services.

Just fur fun

Annual 4th of July Tiki Pawty for Dogs: Saturday, July 4, all day., Joyful Paws Pet Hotel and Daycare, 1701 Fashion Ave., Long Beach, $6, RSVP at 562-684-8610. Available to boarded furry guests only.

Some humans who live in areas where illegal fireworks noise is unbearable opt to board their pets for the most intensive days. If your pet already has a reservation or you’re planning to make one, RSPV for this fun event. Dogs will enjoy a day in the pool with pupsicles and puperazzi to snap photos. Cats, of course, are welcome but likely wouldn’t enjoy the pool; however, they’re entitled to a Tiki photo. Of course, no fireworks will mark the festivities.

New-Dog Basics Classes: Saturdays, July 11–Aug. 15, 4 –5 p.m., Trots Headquarters, Long Beach, $395 for the series, inquire at [email protected].  Address given out after registration.

Are you one of the wonderful humans who gave a new dog a new home during the pandemic shut-in? You love the doggie but not some of their habits? These dog psychology classes are just the right thing: walking, boundaries and other necessary things to know. Animal behaviorist Jo Stanford does such a good job of guiding you through a dog’s mind that pretty soon you’ll be staying off the couch, too!

Adopt, adopt, adopt

Woman with short blonde hair and wearing a light-colored shirt and pants squats next to a black-and-white cattle dog mix in a background of flowering bushes.

The following pet-related businesses regularly feature cat, dog and rabbit adoptions, but 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.


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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.”