In the spirit of “Why doesn’t someone do something?” Long Beach resident Kris Beardsley will host a workshop this weekend for those who want to help the thousands of unaltered stray cats running around the city’s streets and the tens of thousands of kittens that they produce.

Beardsley, a retired FBI agent, wants her latest investigative efforts to unite local resources, trappers, city government and residents as an interdependent coalition to help stray and feral cats.

Her Stray and Feral Cat Resource Workshop will take place Saturday, Jan. 20, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Speakers will include representatives from Long Beach Animal Care Services and Helen Sanders CatPAWS. Everyone from experienced trappers to people calling out, “Help! There’s a mother cat having kittens in our carport!” is encouraged to attend.

“Many of you may know how many unwanted, unhoused, and abandoned cats and kittens live in Long Beach,” Beardsley wrote in a Nextdoor post. “Without human assistance, many outdoor cats die tragic deaths. Thankfully, there are many of us who work hard to take care of these cats while trying to curb the growing number of feral and stray cats.”

Beardsley became involved in community cat advocacy and TNR (trapping stray cats, spaying and neutering them, before returning them to their original location) through chance and effort. When she moved to Long Beach in 2020, some cats hanging around her house grabbed her attention. The previous homeowner had been feeding them but not fixing them, which is the key to cutting down their numbers.

“I sent out an email to a bunch of different TNR rescues, and I was very grateful because Long Beach Spay and Neuter messaged me back,” she said. “They essentially trained me on how to trap the cats.”

The cats she found turned out to be house cat wannabes, and Beardsley got them all adopted except for two kittens, and of course, you know where they went. (Ah, the pitfalls of rescue).

“That started my wanting to help the neighborhood — trap as many cats as possible and get them all spayed and neutered,” she said.

Nationwide, cats are the animals most euthanized in city shelters — around 530,000 of them every year — because of their large numbers and lack of space to house them. Community cats in Long Beach are more fortunate, with the Compassion Saves program and foster opportunities. So far, no healthy cats have been euthanized.

two people in hoodies sit near a trap covered by a blanket
Volunteers from The Cat Cove rescue crouch in wait for a stray cat to take the bait. Photo by Kate Karp

Grassroots workshop will bring inexperienced residents into the clowder

Many residents who aren’t directly involved in rescue or TNR aren’t aware of resources for trapping and spay/neuter assistance or what’s involved in either. Many of them cry for help with cats in their yards or neighborhoods with little idea of where to address their pleas. Rather than coming to the rescue of desperate people, the people who discover the cats need to learn what’s involved in rescuing them and how to do it themselves or support the effort. That’s part of what Beardsley hopes to do with the coalition.

“Some residents who are not aware of the city’s services to help spay or neuter their own cats may actively feed stray and feral cat populations without also taking time to trap and spay or neuter them,” Beardsley said.

Attendees at the Saturday workshop will learn about such resources as Long Beach Animal Care Services’ spay/neuter vouchers and Community Cats program. After the workshop, Beardsley will offer a bank of resources that include low-cost spay/neuter, vaccines and medical care.

Eventually, she aims to encourage city officials to increase the value of the city’s spay/neuter vouchers so that they’ll cover the entire cost of fixing a TNR cat. This would ease the financial burden for trappers, who often pay out of their own pockets, and lower shelter veterinary costs by drawing down the number of sick kittens that LBACS accepts.

Beardsley is also in the process of creating a nonprofit to further the effort; people who don’t have trapping in their wheelhouses but want to support the TNR effort will be able to do so through donation.

“I think I’m going to be in this business for a while,” she said.

Whether you’re a TNR person or want to be part of a community effort to reduce the number of cats on the streets and increase the number of cats in homes, email Kris Beardsley at [email protected] to confirm attendance at the Stray and Feral Cat Resource Workshop. Once you confirm your attendance, you’ll receive the workshop address. 

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the correct times of the weekend workshop. 

Update: The Stray and Feral Cat Resource Workshop has been rescheduled to Feb. 10, 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., due to rain. Enrollees will receive an email or a text notifying them of the change. Email Kris Beardsley at [email protected] for details and enrollment.