During this year’s March 6–12 PetSmart Charities National Adoption Week, PetSmart Charities is shining a spotlight on pets with special needs. With shelters and rescues at their fullest, these pets wait the longest to be adopted, according to the event’s Adoption Week page.

Next weekend, Helen Sanders CatPAWS will be among the rescues participating in National Adoption Week. CatPAWS pulls kittens and adult cats from shelters, socializes them with fosters, gets them spayed or neutered and vaccinated, and finally features them on their adoption page and in the Seal Beach PetSmart’s Adoption Center. Several cats in the rescue’s care have needs other than just the basic recipe.

“We’ve had an assortment over the years: partially or wholly blind, deaf, missing limbs, neurological issues like cerebellar hypoplasia for example, in addition to ones with chronic medical conditions such as heart defects, kidney disease, hyperthyroid, cancer and retroviruses,” CatPAWS director Deborah Felin-Magaldi said. “They may have different care needs and accommodations, but I like to think their only really special need is to be accepted and loved for who they are.”

Special needs pets need special humans who will make that commitment from the get-go, but as CatPAWS foster Linda Brittain found, the pet will frequently meet you halfway. Brittain recently offered to foster a sightless kitten named Prada, but she was concerned that she and her family didn’t have what it took to care for her.

“We didn’t know if we could keep her safe from harm,” Brittain said. “How did we know that she wasn’t going to jump off something and break her legs? So, we put her in a small room, we watched her—and it was so funny—she was like a Roomba! She made herself really flat, she mapped the room till she’d bump into something, and then she’d go to that area! She jumps and climbs, she plays with the wand toy—she can hear it move. I never felt she was special needs.”

CatPAWS, along with other rescues, strongly believes that every creature deserves the best life they can possibly have. Not everyone is equipped to provide it, of course, and to anyone who absolutely cannot, good for you for knowing that. Fostering or adopting an animal with physical issues, medical needs or both takes planning, thought and commitment. In fact, fostering or adopting any animal demands all that—as time passes, even a healthy animal could develop special needs.

That said, if you’re wavering, you might want to consider it. Erick Ha, who came to the PetSmart Adoption Center to ask about adopting one of the special-needs kittens, expressed very well why he was specifically looking for one.

“Those are the pets that need the most love and care. I’m absolutely ready for the challenge because they need the help—what are they going to do without us?”

If you feel the same way and are ready to foster or adopt, fill out an application here. Donate to the Blanco Memorial Fund for special needs cats here.

 Virtually pets
beautiful tortoiseshell cat sits like a meatloaf with closed eyes on a black seat.
Prada, whom you’ve met, was born without eyes, so this is her normal. She underwent surgery to suture the openings and prevent infection to keep her healthy and comfortable. The staff at every vet appointment—and she’s been to quite a few in her young life—have said how outgoing and friendly she is. Her purr is so loud that it can be difficult for the vet to listen to her heart and lungs—when was the last time your cat purred at the vet? Prada thinks she’s just fine, and so do her fosters. Hope someone out there does, too.
Dark calico cat wearing a gray harness sits on a blanket on a bed and sticks her tongue out!
Mocha, the “seeing-eye cat,” had gone with Prada to Linda Brittain’s house as a companion foster. Prada would listen as Mocha jumped to something and figured out where and how high it was. Mocha has some scar tissue around her eyes, but she’s fine and fun and ready to go. She’d be a great companion for, say, Prada.
Fluffy brown tabby with left eye missing lies on a blanket and looks at the camera.
Dodge came from the shelter as a kitten with a badly infected and malformed eye. Surgery to remove that diseased eye had been postponed a couple times as she battled back some nasty infections, but it’s been completed. She’s all set to live a pain-free life, adored and valued as she should be. Here’s lookin’ at you, Dodge.
Fuzzy black kitten with white patch on chest stares out the window, with colorful curtains on the side.
Kyiv is a happy, playful boy. He’s also positive for the feline leukemia virus, which manifests as a compromised immune system and is transmissable between cats but not dogs or humans. In years past, FeLV-positive cats were routinely and automatically euthanized in shelters, even when otherwise healthy. Lately, however, advances in veterinary medicine have made FeLV not necessarily a death sentence—in fact, some cats can go on to live fairly healthy, happy lives for years. Although Kyiv loves companionship, he should be an only kitty or live with another FeLV-positive one (CatPAWS does have another—Oslo.).

If we’re looking at special needs pets, we have to include House of Broken Cookies. This nonprofit was founded by Jennifer Linn, a lone rescuer who takes in only special-needs cats. The rescue’s name is inspired by the idea that a broken cookie tastes just as sweet, and Linn doesn’t see the “cookies” as broken, anyway—they just need some accommodation and love to make them whole.

Linn taught special needs kids and adults professionally for 16 years and has the same affinity for special needs cats.

“I have a real love for the special-needs cats—they have special souls,” she said.

Linn makes sure she knows everything there is to know about every cat she takes in and in turn wants to know everything about whoever is going to adopt them. She conducts interviews and makes home visits to see if the lay of the house will produce any issues for the cats.

“I look for an experienced cat person or someone that I believe is going to be absolutely fabulous with them and willing to learn,” she said. “I also won’t adopt out of state. My goal is to find the right home—homes where they’ll be cared for and won’t be returned from.”

House of Broken cookies desperately needs volunteers for long-term fosters for medical and special-needs cats, all of which the rescue will pay for. To foster or to visit the house and volunteer, email [email protected]. Donate to its wish list or vet account here. Fill out an adoption application here. Here are a couple of cookies from the box!

Tabbico cat with brown nose patch pokes her head out from blankets and stares with big eyes.
Bug is unique from nose to tail and is funny, playful and beautiful. She likes to cuddle and sit on your lap. When it’s time for bed, she’ll be right there with you. Miss Bug was born with a condition called tibial hemimelia, which affects the development of the bone structure in her back legs. She has seen a specialist who was very impressed with her and isn’t concerned about her future. She has a very long body and from the back looks a little bow-legged, but she gets around without a problem. Despite her short legs, she’s quite a climber and can be a bit of a talker. She runs, plays, and wrestles with the best of them and loves other kitties!
Flamepoint Siamese lies on cat tree and looks out
Wilbur loves belly rubs and will follow you around just to get some love. He is a bit of a conversationalist, too. He needs a minute to get to know you as he is a bit shy to begin with, but it won’t take long. Wilbur has a congenital spinal abnormality that cannot be fixed. But, as his specialist said, “He’s perfect just the way he is!” Wilbur taught himself how to walk, and nothing slows him down. He’ll need some accommodations just to make things a little easier. House of Broken Cookies uses cat trees to help him get up and down and he can manage a couple of steps, but he’d do best in a one-story home. He loves other kitties–he and Bug would make a great pair!
Great furballs of fun!

Fundraiser/adoption event for Live Love Animal Rescue: Saturday, March 4, 10 a.m.–1 p.m., Lather, 6440 Pacific Coast Highway, # 160, Long Beach, prices vary.

Beauty may be skin deep, but we’re only human. Our pets are beautiful from fur to skin to heart and soul. This fundraiser, though, will help your outer layer be beautiful and also do something beautiful for the dogs at Live Love. Check out Lather’s line of cruelty-free bath, body and beauty products, and enjoy free gifts with your purchase, refreshments and raffles. And doggies, of course! Lather will donate 20% of all purchases during the event to benefit Live Love.

St. Pawdy Day Parade & free vaccine clinic: Saturday, March 11, 2 p.m.–5:30 p.m., Westminster Lanes, 6471 Westminster Blvd., Westminster, $45 per bowler, $20 to sit on the sidelines and cheer.

Join up with Team Kitty and rack up a few wins for the cats and kittens at Helen Sanders CatPAWS. Bowl for two hours, or pay the lesser amount and just watch the pins fall like a veritable feline. Chow down on hearty appetizers or a personal pizza, with soft drink included. All tickets include an opportunity drawing, and prizes will be awarded for highest and lowest scores. Buy tickets here. All proceeds benefit CatPAWS.

CatPAWS 10th annual Bowling Fundraiser: Saturday, March 18, 10 a.m.–3 p.m., Los Cerritos Park, 3750 Del Mar Ave., Long Beach, free event, rabies and Bordetella shots $20 each.

Bring your costumed (or not!) dog or just yourself and join in on the fun. Costume contests, a professional fiddler, vendors and all kinds of fun. Get your pet’s shots at a discount, and best of all, you can be that end-of-the-rainbow for a lucky dog or cat from Sparky and the Gang or Long Beach Animal Care Services.

St. Cat-tricks Day Fundraiser: Saturday, March 18, 5–7 p.m., Feline Good Social Club, 301 Atlantic Ave., $35.

Feline Good Social Club has some very special kitties who love to pawty and are looking forward to celebrating a lucky day. Buy tickets right here, and come hang out with over 30 kitties and the special improv troupe Held2Gether, who will be providing a 45-minute fun set to delight and entertain you. We will provide one complimentary Things for Your Head seltzer with the purrchase of each ticket, and everyone who wears their St. Patty’s Day green will be entered into a raffle drawing for FGSC merch.

A helping paw
black dog lies with hangdog look on face
Courtesy photo

Dog Obedience Classes: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays until further notice, noon–1 p.m., Lincoln Park Dog Park, Downtown Long Beach at 101 Pacific Ave., Long Beach, sessions are free.

Is Sadie acting shady? Does Belle like to yell? If your dog needs to know good behavior, it’s time to bring them to school. Instructor Charlie DiBono of Body and Mind K9 makes no bones about good dog behavior being more than sitting up and looking cute. The classes are free to attend and are available on a first-come, first served basis. Space is limited, so roll over and get out the door.

Foster for a while—or furever!
Photo courtesy of PetSmart Charities

PetSmart Charities National Adoption Week: March 6–12, PetSmart locations everywhere, adoption fees apply.

Each year, more than 5 million pets enter animal shelters in need of loving homes. Today, pets are staying in shelters longer, and many local shelters are struggling with stretched budgets and limited staffing, our own Long Beach Animal Care Services included. In partnership with PetSmart Charities, Helen Sanders CatPAWS will bring adoptable pets to the Seal Beach PetSmart location, 12341 Seal Beach Blvd., in in support of National Adoption Week. During the in-store event, Helen Sanders CatPAWS invites pet lovers to make room in their homes for pets in need. PetSmart Charities also encourages people to consider adopting pets with special needs, like sweet Prada, seen in the photo, who was born without eyes. She was rescued as a tiny, sick kitten from a public shelter. To view all available pets for adoption, please visit the CatPAWS adoption page.

smiling woman holds a baby rabbit, who is white with tan ears
Long Beach Animal Care Services foster coordinator Tabare Depaep cuddles Albert. You can help get Albert ready for a forever home. Courtesy Long Beach Animal Care Services

The more than 300 LBACS dogs, cats and bunnies need your help, as The Scratching Post stresses. The city of Long Beach’s commitment to Compassion Saves means that animals in our care can live and thrive. We need our community to show its support of Compassion Saves by fostering, adopting, volunteering and donating.

LBACS has reached urgent capacity with the influx of incoming animals to the shelter during the holidays. There is no more kennel space to take in more dogs at the shelter. To maintain the LBACS Compassion Saves model of helping those in greatest need—the sick, injured and abused—your help is needed to keep the healthy and lost pets out of the shelter. If you are interested in adopting, please email [email protected] or apply to foster here.

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.

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