silver tabby with white face, chest and paws and pink nose sits in a red cottage
Come on in and stay awhile!

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.

Little Paws Project poised to raise healthy adoptable kittens

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.

shelves with pawprint designs adorning walls, with scratching post underneath.
Steps, shelves and cubbies will have active kittens literally climbing the wall. Photo by Kate Karp.

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.

rowsand rows of humane cat traps, in red and black, on the top shelf
“You have to sanitize the room with a garden sprayer full of Rescue [a veterinary disinfectant),” Otis said. “You also have to make sure they’re clean and fed. The room has its own bathroom to clean kennels, so they don’t have to worry about cross-contamination. We’re trying to raise money to put in a big tub thing so that they can dip and sanitize the traps.” Photo by Kate Karp

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.

Donations are gladly accepted here. Learn about volunteer options on this link.

Virtually pets

Meet some graduates of the Kitten-Control Project! Find anything you need to know about adopting one of them at this link.

striped cat with three legs and a white muzzle and legs stares at camera. She lies on a soft, printed blanket
Ella is a beautiful, petite, tripod girl with lots of spunk and love to give. She’s got a big personality and a big heart. She has been though a lot in her short life, but that hasn’t slowed her down one bit! Ella has never been around dogs or children but currently lives in a home with four other cats. She would do best going home to another playful cat and human with lots patience and love to give. If you want a fun cuddly companion who sleeps in bed with you all night long, Ella is your girl!
light orang cat lies on back
Sinbad is a very energetic cat who never tires! He loves toys, and his favorites are the chirping bird and squeaky mice. He will carry them around in his mouth as if they’re his prey. He does well with other cats and small dogs. He loves to plop down on your feet and lick your toes. This floofy little guy will make a great addition to your home!


Cat with calico head and ears and white chest and mask with orange smudge on left side lies on a blanket staring at the camera
Fern is a chunky little sweetheart! She’s extremely loving and loyal, eager to seek you out and hang out wherever you are. She loves to be stroked and snuggle up for cuddles and ear scratches! Fern is eternally curious and loves finding little things to bat around the house. Her favorite spot is on the couch cuddled up or just splayed out enjoying the rug. She’s also spunky and sassy with her brother, Avery, and loves to play! She also can be independent and adventurous—a true calico! Fern’s favorite toys are plastic springs, and she enjoys bouncing after them around the house. She also loves long strings—chasing them with her brother can be lots of fun! She’s very outgoing and loves meeting new friends! Fern is bonded with her brother Avery.


cat with black head and white upper muzzle and chest, and widespread ears sits on a blanket
Avery is super-affectionate, loving and sweet! He always eager to greet you at the door when you come home and is very happy to pad around the house after you, looking for rubs and cuddles and ear tugs. His favorite place to sleep is in front of the wood stove, where he can find some cozy warmth in the winter! He can be quite mischievous with his sister, Fern, and sometimes steals her favorite spot to sleep in! He adores getting treats and will jump up to grab them from your hand. Avery loves spring toys just like his sister does and adores chasing after a good long string or a reed. Avery’s sweet nature and little milk mustache will capture your heart! Avery is bonded with his sister Fern.


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

woman with gray hair and wearing a light shirt and green apron cuddles a big pit bull as they sit on a bench.
Are you in the mood for love—forever, unconditional love? Go online to Long Beach Animal Care Services and look for Poncho (ID#A671445). Poncho’s an 8-month-old puppyish pittie, and you’ll fall in love immediately. So will he! Volunteer Jo said that Poncho’s only flaw, if you can call it that, is jumping up on every park bench he passes for some cuddles. Make an appointment to fall in love.

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!

Man lies on plaid blanket with neck-to-toe cats
Meet a real cat dad—he’s fostering for Helen Sanders CatPAWS, and he’s not lying down on the job, no matter what he looks like. All cat foster parents are encouraged to fill out a form, available here, to take home a kitten and socialize them for the adoption center! It’s just temporary. Really. Unless . . . Photo courtesy of Nancy Cohn.


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.