small orange cat sits tall by a window near a bowl of red fruit and looks at camera
This is Max, short for Maximum Awesomeness! Max was found by a good Samaritan at a local shopping center, and he cleverly got himself rescued by jumping into their car.

I just finished reading the still-growing list of comments on a three-day-old Nextdoor post from someone who’d found a sickly kitten and didn’t know what to do.

Say what you will about Nextdoor being a repository for whinge and rant, when it comes to helping with pets, there’s no better bunch of quasi-strangers. Each commenter suggested something helpful and heartfelt: bathing with Dawn soap, contacting rescue organizations, spay/neuter options, the city shelter. But there was no real consensus on where to take the kitten if no one was up to adopt—and therein lies the tummy rub for what to do with found pets, cats in particular.

Found cats are less likely to have “owners” than are dogs, said Staycee Dains, manager of Long Beach Animal Care Services, so there’s no one you can contact about vet care or ownership unless the cats are in managed colonies. Cats are also more prolific breeders if left unaltered, and there are no local or state laws requiring them to be confined or leashed, as with dogs. Dains provided some sad animal-control data that reported 886 calls for deceased cats as opposed to 170 for dogs made from March 1 through July 31.

No matter how upset they get, most people who’ve found cats mean well and seriously want to do the right thing but have no idea how or what to do. Expecting rescues to accept them is usually not an option—I found this out firsthand a long time ago and have learned better. Most rescues aren’t equipped to take in every cat on the street. Please keep in mind that their workers are mainly volunteers, with their last hackle bristled from hours of trap/neuter/return (TNR, and the N stands for spay/neuter), pulling cats from public shelters, taking in cats that shelters don’t have the resources to assist, schlepping sick and injured felines to veterinarians, ordering food, lining up adopters, and scrambling for funds to pay for it all. Most cats they take in are pulled from public shelters, although there are exceptions.

Why Long Beach Animal Care Services will no longer accept healthy cats—for the most part

Even municipal shelters often aren’t options, at least at this time. One recent policy that has understandably raised confusion and anger is “managed intake,” or “managed admissions,” Best Friends Animal Society’s general definition is “the ‘how’ and ‘when’ of intake, [referring] to any form of regulating or scheduling non-urgent intake.” It’s mainly, what can a shelter handle? The policy is described as an attempt by shelters to save as many animals as they can within the limits of what they can handle, but it seems to butt heads with the idea of a city shelter being a service to all residents. I do not envy the job of shelter managers.

In some municipal shelters, including ours, this means not taking in healthy cats. LBACS’ homepage reads, “We are not currently receiving healthy found cats. Please either simply leave them where they are or take them in and care for them if you are able.” Dains refines the policy as follows:

“Our goal is to get back to a space where we can take in healthy stray cats for the purposes of returning them home after they’ve been spayed or neutered. The shelter will take in healthy stray cats when there’s room for them and when they have the ability to do spay/neuter surgery on them and get them back to where they came from. When we had more resources, it was a lot easier to do. When we were not trying to save the lives that we are trying to save [several years ago,] we accepted lots of cats because we also knew that we were going to euthanize a lot of cats. We are not euthanizing a lot of cats anymore, which means that a lot of cats that are in the shelter have been there for quite some time.”

This also goes for dogs, and the shelter is in crisis mode as far as kennel space is concerned.

Dains has in certain situations arranged for people who have brought in healthy cats to take them to veterinary  for spay/neuter at the shelter’s expense. LBACS will accept sick or injured pets, cats included.

“Any animal in need of medical attention can absolutely come in to the shelter,” Dains said. “So, if someone brings us a stray cat, it’s thin, it doesn’t look really good—you know, maybe it has a runny nose—any one of those things will get the animal into the shelter. Even if the cat just looks a little wanky, they don’t look great, they don’t look healthy, those cats will be taken in.“

Abandoned cats, like many cats, are fence sitters. Cats presumed abandoned may belong to someone who allows them to roam (not recommended) or from whose home the cat has escaped. In these instances, the finder can bring the cat to a vet clinic for a free microchip scan (microchipping your cat is highly recommended). Dains said that the shelter needs proof of abandonment, for instance, information about the person who left the cat. Illness and scrawniness can also be telltale signs of abandonment.

The spay/neuter voucher holdup

“Many moons ago, we passed the mandatory spay and neuter law,” said the fatigued and indefatigable Brandy Gaunt, founder of Jellicle Cats Rescue Foundation. “There has been no enforcement. But even if there was enforcement, it wouldn’t matter, because there are no resources. It’s hard to wait for vouchers. By the time your vouchers arrive you’ve already had two litters of kittens born in your backyard. It’s cheaper to fix three cats than it is 24 kittens.”

The staffing shortage at the shelter makes for a three-month wait for vouchers that are worth $100 toward spay/neuter at selected veterinary clinics. Dains agreed that the voucher program has been a recent challenge.

“The time frame for getting that voucher filled right now is stiff because we have just one person answering the phone and one other person doing office work,” Dains said. “That’s not the most timely way for someone to get a voucher. We understand that. If they have an immediate need for that voucher, they can certainly email [email protected] directly and say, hey, I have an appointment coming up really soon. Otherwise, they can just simply request the voucher online.”

But, sadly, expect a wait.

It’s a community effort, because no one else’ll do it for us

 “It is my fondest wish that one day we don’t have to keep trapping and fixing—I really wish that rescue was so effective that we could work ourselves out of a niche,” Gaunt said. Agreed, and I don’t have the slenderest idea of how to fix pet rescue. Everyone will have to spay or neuter their pets, keep them indoors, find a way to get them to a new home before abandoning, convince city officials, elected and otherwise, to fully fund our shelters. I’m not hopeful of this happening anytime soon, but even the most frustrated and exhausted rescuer knows that giving up and doing nothing aren’t options.

If you’ve found a cat and the cat appears ill, please contact Long Beach Animal Care Services as 562-570-7387. Can you foster? Volunteer? Donate to rescues and shelters? Email your city councilperson or attend a budget meeting and speak up for our shelter?

And use any available resource. Cats has a full page of them, which is excerpted below. If you know of any other resources for free or low-cost spay/neuter, medical care, food and fostering, please email me at [email protected].

Low cost spay/neuter clinics:
  • Golden State Humane Society in Long Beach. Low cost spay and neuter, vaccinations and microchipping for pets, and also Trap-Neuter-Return.
  • The Spay and Neuter Project of Los Angeles Low cost spay and neuter, vaccinations and microchipping for pets, and also Trap-Neuter-Return.
  • Fix Long Beach now has an actual clinic where they do low cost spay and neuter as well as vaccines and microchips! Pet spay/neuter and other veterinary care, and also Trap-Neuter-Return.
  • Fixnation will do community cats for free. There is a fee for pets. Located in Sun Valley, this is a good resource for when you are low on funds but have time to spare.
Spay/neuter assistance:
  • The Peter Zippi Memorial Fund for Animals: offers financial assistance for spay and neuter, for both pets and community cats. Participating clinics include Golden State Humane Society and the Spay and Neuter Project of Los Angeles.
  • If you are in a city covered by Long Beach Animal Care Services, you can apply for a voucher online. It doesn’t cover the full cost of the surgery, but it makes a pretty significant dent.
Support organizations
  • Friends of Long Beach Animals is a terrific organization based in Long Beach. They have been around for a long time, helping pet parents in Long Beach, supporting our local shelter and working with the rescue community to help get pets into loving homes. They provide a lot of spay and neuter resources for the community and have done an awful lot to help the pet overpopulation problem by helping people get their pets spayed and neutered.
Virtually pets

And can you adopt? Jellicle Cats has literally handpicked these kyats right off the street and vetted them and socialized them to get them ready to live with you. Email [email protected] to adopt any of these pointy-eared creatures!

beautiful brown tabby with medium fur and the tips of his ears not showing sits in a kennel, looking serious.
Smokey showed up at a local community cat colony, cared for by Caretaker Steve. Steve trapped him and took him to Golden State for TNR, but it turned out that Smokey was not feral—just very, very shy. Golden State reached out for help, and the Matron of Jellicle Manor could not say no to her friends at the clinic, and so Smokey became a Jellicle Cat. Smokey has taken some time to settle in and learn to trust people again. He’s quietly talkative and loves to be brushed. He would be very happy as an only kitty where he can be the center of the universe, but he would also do OK with other mellow cats and small dogs. He was a terrible street cat and really will be glad to have an indoor home of his own, with servants and toys, all the food he can eat, and enough roof space for his beautiful tufted ears to fully show themselves.

two gray[and-white cats sit alert next to each other and look out the camera
Is this a great shot, or what? It was taken by Jellicle volunteer Sandi Spencer. It shows, left to right, Charm and Chance, two of 15 (!) that were born in a backyard in North Long Beach. There were originally three adult kitties that a kind citizen started to feed, and their feeder reached out to the shelter for help or guidance in getting them spayed when they first started coming around. Because of COVID-19, the shelter did not have the resources to help, and so the three became 18(!!) The mommas have been trapped, fixed, and returned to their backyard homes; the kittens are all big enough now to also have been fully vetted and ready to go to a home! For being born in a backyard, these kittens are awfully sophisticated and ready for the finer things in life. Charm will hog all the toys and cleverly hide them, growling at the other kittens who may find her treasures. She is quick to forgive, however, and resumes play pretty easily. Chance is a rough-and-tumble, Dennis the Menace-type of kitten who will play with, pounce on, and make a game out of anything—even things you yourself can’t see! It would be amazing if they could go to a home together!
small orange cat sits tall by a window near a bowl of red fruit and looks at camera
This is Max, short for Maximum Awesomeness! Max was found by a good Samaritan at a local shopping center, and he cleverly got himself rescued by jumping into their car! The good Sam reached out to the local shelter, but they couldn’t take him. The problem was that the coyotes in the parking lot would have made a quick snack of such an inexperienced street cat, so the good Sam took him home and then reached out for help. Max is now fully vetted and totally comfortable in his foster home. Now, he’s ready for a home of his own! He’s good with . . . well, everyone, really! He just wants love and attention and will return it in kind! [Author note: Orange cats are special.]

Great furballs of fun!

FOLBA’s 33rd Anniversary Celebration and Casino Event: Friday, Aug. 26, 7 p.m., The Modern, 2801 E. Spring St., Long Beach, tickets $50, $75 and $100, see details and purchase tickets here.

The most venerable animal-welfare organization in Long Beach is celebrating 33 years of helping our city’s pets: funding surgical procedures at the shelter, paying for countless spay/neuter procedures, giving grants to animal rescues for their operations, funding special projects for clinics and shelters—too many to count on the toe beans of four paws. As you can tell by the continuing need in our community and communities everywhere, Friends of Long Beach Animals is nowhere near done working; however, they have lots of good stuff to celebrate! To combine the two, FOLBA is proud to present a night of casino games and fundraising (dress to impress!). Enjoy a full bar, participate in raffles, stuff your face with food, meet some adoptables and two beneficiaries of FOLBA’s efforts, and have a chance to be on Pawz TV. All money raised will help fund FOLBA’s good works. Hey, if

Benny the Cat’s 5th birthday party and fundraiser: Saturday, Aug. 27, 11 a.m.–3 p.m., Marina Community Center, 151 Marina Drive, Seal Beach, tickets $20, children 10 and younger free.

Benny, the brave little cat who nearly lost his life to domestic abuse, is now living the life and is ready to celebrate his fifth birthday. He wants you to come to the party! He promises games, raffles, live entertainment, vendors, food, party favors and kittens for adoption. Of course, he’ll be the guest of honor. Purrrr-chase your tickets here! All money raised at Benny’s fifth birthday party will help his fellow kitties at Helen Sanders CatPAWS, the organization that paid for his surgery. That’s the only birthday present he’s asked for!

A helping paw

Council District 8 announces 60-day amnesty for new or late pet licensing fees for designated residents

A resolution introduced by Councilman Al Austin and passed by the City Council provides a temporary amnesty program that waives a first-time pet licensing fee and late penalty fee for an expired pet license for residents of Community Development Block Grant-designated areas in Long Beach can apply to an HUD grant program that will waive fees for new and late pet licenses until Aug. 23. Access this map to determine whether you live in a CDBG zone, or call 562-570-1326 or email [email protected].

12 months of pets!

 The pet calendars are getting an early start! Enter your own calendar grrrls or purrrrls and help fund rescues and their good works!

Show Us Your Kitties!, Helen Sanders CatPAWS, votes $5 each, reserved days $15 each, closes Aug. 20

 Help Helen Sanders CatPAWS raise money to save cats from public shelters! Submit a photo of your kitty, or vote for your favorite feline in the contest. You can also submit a kitty photo for a special day on the calendar. The top vote winner at the conclusion of the contest will have their choice of month to feature their cat as a pinup pm on the calendar. The next 12 top-vote recipients will become Helen Sanders CatPAWS Calendar Cats for each of the remaining calendar months between January 2023 and January 2024. Up to six runner-up photos after the top 13 vote recipients will be featured with larger photos and name on the front cover! Enter now at this link!

 Foster for awhile—or furever!

woman with hair pulled back and wearing multicolor blouse sits with a big open smile on her face and arms around a white pit bull with black ears and a long, pink tongue hanging out. They both sit on grass in front of a cement walkway.

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.