Three events featuring cats will take place this weekend, and just in time because kitten season is in full bloom. The little flowers are indeed lovely as morning glory, but they proliferate as quickly, and it’s difficult to figure out how to contain the proliferation.
“We were hit with a kitten tsunami yesterday—16 cats and kittens—and our kennels are completely full,” said Anna Wong, Long Beach Animal Care Services’ community cat coordinator.
Most kittens that ride the waves into the shelters and rescues come from community cats, which are felines that roam freely outdoors and whose temperaments range from friendly to completely unsocial—think “feral.” The Scratching Post covers kitten season at least once a year, so I’m sure I’ll repeat myself, but repetitions are good reminders of how the community at large can help.
Kitten season begins roughly in SoCal in late February and ends around October. The temperatures are higher here than in other parts of the country. If Mother Nature were also making bad puns, She’d probably say that the hot weather comes in tandem with female cats’ heat cycle, which ebbs and flows—but mostly ebbs—during these months. Shelters, rescues and volunteers meanwhile brace themselves for the onslaught.
“There are now more animals than ever,” said Brandy Gaunt, founder of Jellicle Cats Rescue Foundation. Gaunt underscored a lack of resources for TNR and spay/neuter procedures as well as shelters and rescues being full and having to turn away animals as exacerbating the seasonal population explosion.
I know that I’m repeating myself again, but more people from the community are needed to step forward and help. You can do a lot of things that require varying degrees of involvement: attend the events listed in Great furballs of fun and ask what you can do, apply to volunteer at the shelter or a rescue, help network pets on social media, or adopt or foster a single cat or an entire nursing family (here’s an application to foster).
You can support or engage in TNR, which stands for “trap, neuter/spay, and release.” The spay/neuter component of TNR is the most effective element of the practice and for mitigating kitten season in general: it turns off the taps to prevent more kittens from being born. TNR volunteers use humane traps to capture cats, some with weaned litters and some without; spay or neuter the adults and return them to where they found them; and prep the kittens for adoption, spay/neuter included.
Several cat rescues on the list at the end of the article engage in the program—among them are Jellicle Cats, The Cat Cove and The Little Lion Foundation. Long Beach Animal Care Services also has a community cats program; access the page here, or email [email protected]. The volunteers have TNR in their DNA, and they’d welcome some help or donations (humane traps, medical care and food cost plenty).
You can TNR on your own as well, but as Gaunt always says, “never take a cat without a plan.” Don’t assume that a rescue or a shelter will take the cats in.
“The rescues already have their hands full, and the need to re-rescue cats can wreak havoc on rescues’ prior rescue commitments because at this point, I guarantee, every rescue is already full and has a backlog of animals waiting for help,” Gaunt said.
Instead, ask the shelter and rescues for guidance, if you find a cat you want to help. Wong said that the shelter will help with spay/neuter vouchers for both mother and babies when the kittens have been weaned.
And this bears repeating, because of the number of “orphaned” kittens brought to the shelter, needing bottle-feeding: please don’t pick up the kittens if you come upon a litter and don’t see the mother. Mom is likely out at Vermin for Less hunting for her kittens and will return in a few hours. The mother cat can take better care of them than we can. When she returns, or if you find an intact family, Gaunt suggested taking some photos, leaving the family where they are, and network them on social media to see if there is a local rescue or foster who has room. Helen Sanders CatPAWS’ resource page “Help! I Found a Cat!” has lots of helpful links and suggestions.
“If you are able to foster the family, you may find that rescues are better able to help,” Gaunt said. “Rescues need fosters and can’t save lives without foster homes. If [the cats] are in imminent danger, then you may violate the cardinal rule and get the family to safety.” The shelter is your best bet for that.
Dealing with kitten season is like bailing out the ocean with a sippy cup, I often restate, but the alternative—doing nothing—will make it worse. As Gaunt said, “Everyone is a someone who can do something. Even if it’s only networking, that still counts.”
Best ride-along ever: My evening with the cat trappers
Here are some opportunities to foster or adopt a cat from our shelter at Long Beach Animal Care Services. The bios were written by cat übervolunteers Janet and John. LBACS is located at 7700 E. Spring St. in Long Beach, at the entrance to El Dorado Park (no fee for parking). You can adopt or foster any of these floofies by emailing [email protected], calling 562-570-4925, or completing an application. Better yet, come by during visiting hours and meet them in furson!
Community volunteers cannot trap, spay and neuter, and release the adult kitties fast enough to prevent carloads of kittens coming in. Here’s a kitten collage to show a mere few. Come by the shelter to meet them … but please, please, don’t let them overshadow the adults. They need to go home, too—and besides, what do you think kittens grow up to be?
Great furballs of fun!
District 8 adoption event: Saturday, May 6, 11 a.m.–2 p.m., Bixby Knolls Park, 1101 E San Antonio Drive, Long Beach, adoption fees apply.
Spend a day at the park with your bestie, whom you’re bound to find in Long Beach Animal Care Services’ Adoption Waggin’! District 8 Councilman Al Austin will host the event.
Cinco de Meow festival: Saturday, May 6, 3–5 p.m., Long Beach Animal Care Services, 7500 E. Spring St., Long Beach, free event, no parking fee for shelter guests
After the adoption event at the park, salsa on over to the shelter to celebrate with the frisky felines! And how do you like kitty personalities? Mild? Spicy? Through the ceiling? Our shelter has them all. Find out about the Spicy Cats Program and celebrate Mexican heritage with music, taco trucks and all the felinos y felinas you could want to see! ¡Andale, orale, hijole, gatitole!
Tap 24 Trivia Time: Sunday, May 7, noon, Tap 24 Bar & Grill, 4750 E. Los Coyotes Blvd. Free event.
Enjoy an epic pub quiz and support kitties from The Little Lion Foundation and The Cat Cove. You can win free drinks or products from Hide & Scratch, but the definite winners will be the cats in the rescues. No reservations required—everyone is welcome.
Zazzy Cats Kitty Rescue Spring Yard Sale: Friday–Monday, 19–21, 8 a,m.–5 p.m., 1205 Umatilla Ave., Long Beach, item prices vary
Clean out your castle and bring the stuff that has worn out its welcome—gently used furniture, clothing, household items, crafts you made by knitting cat fur. All of the proceeds from selling them will go directly to Zazzy Cats’ efforts to help homeless kittens and cats and find them good homes from where they’ll spend their entire lives. All donations are tax deductible—they will be accepted May 18, 8am–5pm at the yard sale address. What’s no longer zazzy to one person will surely be zazzy to another!
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.
German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County
Long Beach Animal Care Services
Long Beach Spay and Neuter Foundation
Pet Food Express Cat Adoption Center
Sparky and the Gang Animal Rescue