Moggie midwife Claudia Otis was sweeping the floor in The Little Lion Foundation’s newly expanded headquarters when I walked in. “Just taking a minute to get my ducks in a row,” she said, unintentionally mixing her metaphors.
Otis was talking about more than the kindles and kindles of kittens that she and her volunteer team have saved from precarious states of health and injury. Otis is cofounder of The Little Paws Kitten Nursery, under the umbrella of Little Lion. “Umbrella” is an apt metaphor this time—the nursery has sheltered the lives of about 2,500 newborns and has spayed and neutered adults to keep them from making more. Little Lion and Helen Sanders CatPAWS opened the nursery in April 2019—it’s now managed solely by Little Lion.
On this day, Otis was readying the newly expanded nursery and Little Lion headquarters for its public debut on Saturday, April 30 (see Great Furballs of Fun for details). Last year, the business next door closed its doors, and Little Lion’s landlord offered Otis the option to take over the space and expand the nursery’s facility and programs. The addition would increase the area from 1,100 square feet to 2,100. So, on Jan. 1, schlepping stuff scrounged from other defunct businesses, Little Paws accepted the keys and went to work.
“It was completely bare in here—the floor was messed up, with cracked tiles, so we had to redo the whole thing,” Otis said. “We built new walls—it was a crazy amount of money.”
Time, too, and shrewdness. A couple of years before, Otis and the volunteers had pounced on an entire adoption center, kennels and all, in a pet-supply store that was shutting down. From an Orange County cat café that succumbed to the COVID-19 shutdown, the rescue secured quirky little wall perches and climbing stairs for little cat feet and tushes. Little Lion stored all of this and more for two years, and earlier this year, they traveled to headquarters in a U-Haul and installed everything in the new space.
Little Paws, which was roomy in the first place but limited to what it could fit into one unit, now boasts, besides the nursery, a Community Cat Room, where up to 21 trapped cats and other felines-in-recovery can recuperate from surgery; the Enrichment Lounge, where fully vaccinated kittens and cats can play and adopters can fur-mally meet their new best friends; an isolation room for serious, contagious medical cases; and a community wellness and education room, where volunteers can demonstrate care for newborn kittens, how to effectively trap, spay and neuter, and return the cats to where they came from, and what people need to care for their pets. Most wonderfully, Little Lion staff and volunteers now have room for an actual office instead of a table scrunched between the kennels and the incubators.
“We just did one community wellness event with Long Beach Animal Care Services—the people’s pets got free vaccinations, microchips—all that stuff to prevent animals from going into the shelter because people can’t afford the care,” Otis said. “We’re shooting for doing food giveaways at least once a month. We held kitten-care workshops, and we’re onboarding fosters here—teaching them how to care for newborns. We’ve got big plans!”
One of the plans is to expand the “kitten-control program.” Most of the kittens that Little Lion rescues come from shelters in a couple of ways. One is shelter diversion, which involves taking in kittens before they can hit the shelter. Shelter diversion is managed in tandem with the SEACCA shelter in Downey, which serves eight cities east of Los Angeles. SEACCA advises rescues where the cats are breeding outdoors, and the volunteers trap them and take them in.
“People call the shelters and say, ‘There’s way too many cats, and they’re having babies,’” Otis said. “The shelter contacts us, and we go out and assess the location. Then we trap as many of the cats as we can and get them fixed. You’re not going to get every single one when you go, so we go back and clean up the stragglers.”
Long Beach Animal Care Services does take in kittens and often nursing mothers. LBACS contacts Little Lion and other cat rescues for pulling kittens, particularly the newborns and the recently weaned.
The kittens, when weaned, are socialized and adopted. The mothers and fathers are vaccinated, and spayed or neutered so they can’t make more kittens. They’re also ear-tipped to identify them as having been fixed, Then, they’re returned to the area they came from unless they show themselves to be snuggly and adoptable.
The rescue’s expansion, both in area and programs, indicates an increased need for volunteers. The core group is wearing their claws to nubbins feeding newborns every few hours, socializing healthy kittens, caring for the sick ones, and sanitizing everything, particularly the iso room.
Of course, they’ll need additional funding for the projects, which Otis said they secure through “lots of begging.” She hopes that when people visit the new headquarters, she won’t have to beg. Cats don’t need to!
Visit The Little Lion Foundation’s new headquarters Saturday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. There will be pie.
Meet some graduates of the Kitten-Control Project! Find anything you need to know about adopting one of them at this link.
Great Furballs of Fun
Adult and special-needs cat-adoption day: Saturday, April 30, 11 a.m.–1 p.m., Pet Supplies Plus, 2806 Bellflower Blvd. (next to Lazy Acres), Long Beach, adoption fees apply
All shelters and rescues are rushing to get kittens healthy and adopted into loving homes. But our shelter at Long Beach Animal Care Services and the Helen Sanders CatPAWS rescue don’t want the adult kitties left in the lurch, and that includes the cats with special needs. This Saturday, CatPAWS is covering the adoption fee for all cats adopted at this event (adopters will be screened as always) and will provide the adopters with a $50 Pet Supplies Plus gift card, which will take a healthy chomp out of all your new friend’s wants and needs!
Little Lion Foundation Headquarters Grand Opening: Saturday, April 30, 3–6 p.m., 1175 E. Wardlow Road, Long Beach, free event.
How they’ve grown! Not just the kittens but the nursery. Mingle with the meowers and the humans, tour the expanded facility, and learn about the rescue’s lifesaving programs. Enjoy refreshments, participate in a raffle, and meet some kittens! Parking available in lot behind building.
Adopt, adopt, adopt
Long Beach Animal Care Services open Saturdays and Sundays, with no appointment necessary
Please make our shelter at Long Beach Animal Care Service your first stop for adoption—it continues to fill with dogs and cats. LBACS is now open without any appointment necessary on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for adoptions and for intake of healthy stray dogs. If you can’t come Sundays, appointments to adopt one of these sweet animals are readily available at [email protected] or 562-570-4925.
Appointments are easily available Wednesday through Saturday. The shelter has also been open since June 2021 for redemptions of personal pets without an appointment during regular business hours and also accepts any sick, dangerous or injured animal without appointment during regular business hours. Appointments are still required to surrender a healthy owned animal or to adopt a pet during regular hours, excluding the above-mentioned Sunday hours.
Foster for awhile—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.
- Ally’s Animal Rescue
- Bunny Bunch
- Cat Cove
- Friends of Long Beach Animals
- Fix Long Beach
- Feline Good Social Club
- Helen Sanders CatPAWS
- 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
- SAFE Rescue Team
- Seal Beach Animal Care Center
- Sparky and the Gang Animal Rescue
- Stray Cat Alliance
- Wrigley Kittens
- Zazzy Cats
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