Thanksgiving is less than a week away, with days of leftovers followed by winter-holiday festivities and dinners with friends. It’s a challenge for humans to stave off a return of the pandemic poundage or continue to lose it. There’s also the problem of keeping pets away from the party table and making sure they don’t eat or do anything that’s not good for them.

Every autumn, emails, social-media posts and articles offer the pet-loving public lists of dos and don’ts for pets. It was a cinch to whip up a casserole of essential tips, as follows:

  • Do not feed or put into tongue’s reach anything with chocolate, raisins, grapes, fruit pits (including avocado), alcohol, nuts or garlic. Marijuana, especially the edibles, is more ubiquitous nowadays, and the plant is very toxic to animals. If you chew gum or have anything around containing the artificial sweetener xylitol, keep the packet out of reach of animals. And no stuffing, please. All this stuff is toxic in various degrees to cats and dogs. The FDA website has an excellent compendium of poisonous things that animals can deem edible.
  • Houseplants and flowers make lovely gifts and decorations, but they aren’t salad for the furries. Lilies and poinsettia show up at homes around now, so keep them way out of reach, particularly of cats, who can leap onto places that would surprise anyone. This goes for mistletoe. Use the plastic kind if you must use it at all. At worst, the cat will have a new toy to bat around.
  • Keep the family veterinarian’s phone number handy in case your pet has snuck something they shouldn’t have and shows symptoms such as vomiting repeatedly, diarrhea, convulsions or agitation. If your vet’s office is closed, call an emergency clinic such as Long Beach Animal Emergency by the Traffic Circle at Ximeno and PCH. Several local veterinaries are open past 6 p.m. daily, including Primary Care at its two locations and Long Beach Animal Hospital. Access the links for hours and locations. The Pet Poison Helpline, 855-764-7661 and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, 888-426-4435 will be of help. Stick the info here on your fridge door.
  • If you’re planning on guests and your pets are door darters, be sure to cordon them off somewhere—the animals, that is. If you have an impish streak, the bedroom where the people throw their coats would be lovely for them. If not, shut them in a bathroom with food, water, toys and maybe a radio. Even studio apartments and lofts have a bathroom.
  • Again, animals have their own sneaky agendas, so for safety’s sake, put a collar on your pet with a tag bearing the animal’s name and your phone number. Be sure they’re microchipped in case they lose the collar or someone removes it. Register the chip, too. Studies reported significant returns home for microchipped pets over ones who don’t have chips implanted.
small brown tabby inspecting a pie. peaches and a teakettle are nearby. All are on a plank table.
Cat smelling a peach pie on wooden table with fresh fruits, kettle, fork and knife.

Back to the food: Pets aren’t usually aware of holidays except when it’s Thanksgiving. Unless you symbolically tick off the day with a defrosted turkey or Tofurky dinner or go to a restaurant, animals react to the hustle and bustle, the bunch of strangers in the house and, of course, the food, whether you’re bringing it to a potluck or cooking it to serve in your own home. So sure, you know you have to give them their own Thanksgiving dinner.

Yes, there are things that pets shouldn’t eat, but there’s a cornucopia of things they can and will. Recipes and recommendations abound from the same resources that the caveats about edibles come from. There are more recipes for dogs than for cats on social media, but that ties in with the Law of Finicky: the more work you take preparing a meal for the cats, the greater the chance there is of them giving it a perfunctory sniff and stalking off. Dogs generally scarf up whatever they see, wherever it is, so it’s nice to give them something they’ll appreciate. The Dog Bakery has on its blog page recipes for a full Thanksgiving dinner for your dog, and the cat might barge in if they know it’s someone else’s food.

If you’re not into home cooking, ready-cooked Barksgiving dinners can be ordered from The Dog Bakery—everything from appetizer to dessert, but you may have to wait until next year since the deadline’s nearly up. You can give them their own little plate of unseasoned table scraps such as turkey with no added dressing or herbs, and certainly no stuffing. They can eat potatoes if they like them. You can safely mix cranberries with no jelly or other goo into their food—several brands of pet food include them. Green beans and peas are good for animals, and raw pumpkin is great for the tummy. A list of safe Thanksgiving food is available here.

Virtually pets

Of course, you’ll need a pet to cook for, and we have just the thing as far as dogs are concerned at SAFE Rescue Team. The very name makes you think of a poor orphan, gaunt and dejected, showing up at a doorstep of a happy home that’s brimming with good smells and laughing people. “Take me in, please,” the creature’s liquid eyes beg.

I’m choked up by my own mawkishness, but that’s what the dogs at this rescue have experienced. SAFE, which stands for Saving Animals from Euthanasia, pulls dogs whom no one wanted from their last days at shelters and houses them with fosters who’ll show them what a real home means. Please, invite one home for the holidays. They probably won’t want to leave, which is the idea. Check out the rescue’s Facebook page, and if you see the perfect permanent houseguest, complete the adoption application here. Fosters are needed as well.

Fuzz-faced doggie with cloudy eye looks into camera. Head shot only.
Jolie is a 10-year-old Yorkie mix pulled on medical waiver from a shelter. Jolie had infection resulting from dry eyes. Her eyes are much better now, and she’ll have mammary-gland mass removal in a couple of days. As you can see, she’s resigned to the veterinary care she’s had, but she’s ready to mend. This little girl will be at home perched on the couch—her favorite spot, by the way—being hand-fed with turkey. Jolie loves food, other dogs, people and kids and is the sweetest senior ever. November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month and Josie’s a great way to foster—or adopt—thankfulness.


sleepy little Chihuahua mix with red paper collar is held by a human wearing a striped shirt.
Cricket is a year-old Chi mix who was rescued after having severe mange and losing all her hair. She looks a lot better now. Cricket’s a sweet lovebug who loves people, kids and other dogs and adores sleeping in a human’s arms. If you aren’t paying enough attention to her, she’ll gently nip at your heels to remind you she’s there! Cricket will be with her foster mom for Thanksgiving, and in case she comes to your house, she fancies all food!


tan puppy (head only) stares from bed.
Butterscotch is just a baby at 4 months old. This little Chiweenie is a parvo survivor rescued from a local shelter, where he might have been euthanized. The sweet little girl is playful and cuddly, and she loves kids and people! This baby will be at the children’s table chowing down on turkey and peas to build up his bulk!


Fuzzy puppy with black head and tan muzzle and paws looks out of towel
Reese, a terrier-mix puppy, is another parvo survivor, again rescued from a local shelter where he was in danger of euthanasia. He’s only 2 months old, and he’s playful, sweet, gentle and absolute adorableness! He loves everything and everyone! Reese will be limited to turkey this year for Thanksgiving, all chopped up since he is still such a young kid.


Clicker alerts

An animal-health alert was recently sent out in regarding outbreaks of both canine influenza (CIV H3N2) and leptospirosis in Los Angeles County. Both diseases can have symptoms anywhere from mild to fatal. Canine influenza cannot be spread to humans but can, in rare occasions, be contracted by cats. Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that humans can contract. The director of Veterinary Public Health has made these recommendations for pet owners:

  • If you think your pets have influenza, keep them away from other animals and contact your veterinarian.
  • Vaccinate dogs against canine influenza H3N2 before they enter boarding kennels, dog day care or dog parks or engage in dog-group activities. This vaccination is also advisable for dogs that may occasionally encounter other dogs.
  • To prevent spread of disease, do not let sick pets share their food bowls, leashes, toys or other supplies with other pets.
  • Wash your hands after touching your pet [or any pet].

Updated information about the spread of the disease is available here.

Just fur fun and fur-ther entertainment

Whiskers in Wonderland: 4–6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 5, Boathouse on the Bay, 190 N. Marina Drive., Long Beach, $65, order tickets here.

The pandemic has brought with it so many struggles for independent rescues along with the rest of our community near and far. The Little Lion Foundation, which rescues and raises newborn kittens and their “teenage” and adult counterparts, is one of the all-volunteer organizations that has not been stopped from answering the call for help time and time again in an effort to lend a hand to as many cats as possible. During the giving season, Little Lion is hosting this event to celebrate the volunteers that ask for nothing but good for the cats and to raise funds for the rescue to continue in its efforts. The event will be held outdoors at the restaurant and will include a silent auction, hors d’oeuvres, bar drinks and a chance to meet some Little Lions.

Jackson Galaxy’s Winter Camp: 11 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 4, and 2 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 5, online, $10 per webinar.

 Animal Planet puurrr-sonality extraordinaire Jackson Galaxy and animal-companion loss-recovery specialist Stephanie Rogers will be camp counselors, with emphasis on the “counselor” part, for two seminars, one that helps human companions deal with the loss of a beloved animal and another that stresses the stressors that stress out people dealing with rescue and all the accompanying headaches. Raise a Glass: Grief and the Healing Power of Ritual During the Holidays offers rituals and activities to honor departed beloved pets; and Saving Yourself So You Can Continue To Save Animals: Cumulative Grief in Animal Service focuses on the truism of you not being able to save anyone if you’re falling apart. To register, click on the links by the seminar names.

Second Annual Home for the Pawlidays pet adoption and craft fair: Saturday, Dec. 11, The Hangar at the Long Beach Exchange,

4150 McGowen St., Long Beach, free to attend, item prices vary.

District 5 councilwoman Stacy Mungo has joined fur-ces with The Cat Cove and The Little Lion Foundation pet rescues to present this wonderful opportunity to do some holiday shopping and, of course, to take home someone furry and adorable to share your season with! Shop for crafts and check out a few adoptables. Spaces are still available for local crafters who may want to take advantage of this prime shopping location in a high-foot-traffic area. Space is limited so reserve yours today. Find out space and cost details, and fill out an application here.

Help wanted, help given

Santa’s Give a Little, Get a Lot vaccine clinic and food giveaway: 11 a.m.4 p.m, Saturday, Dec. 4, Fix Long Beach, 1749 Magnolia Ave. Long Beach, vax prices vary.

In conjunction with the nonprofit Fix’n Fidos and Petco retail pet supplies, low-cost spay/neuter clinic Fix Long Beach is offering a drive-thru vaccine clinic, free flea meds and pet food giveaway while the supplies last. For dogs, four vaccines and microchip: $50; for cats, two vaccines and microchip: $30.

Volunteers of many stripes needed at Helen Sanders CatPAWS

Want to spend a few hours playing with cats? How about brightening the day of a bunch of senior citizens with kitten visits? Fostering cats because you aren’t sure you want to keep one but wish you could have one ever so briefly in your life (and yes, you could change your mind and keep them forever). Delivering pet food to needy shelters? Assembling do-it-yourself newborn-kitten-care kits, and maybe bottle-feeding a few? Kennel cleaning (whee!)? Lend a paw to CatPAWS—fill out the volunteer application at this link.

Volunteer walkers needed for senior citizens’ dogs

Ida’s Walkers is a program of The Heart of Ida, a 501c3 nonprofit organization serving the older-adult population in and around Long Beach. Ida’s Walkers offers dog-walking services to low-to-moderate-income seniors who are hospitalized, have limited mobility, or are at risk of falling. If you want to help senior citizens keep their beloved pets as long as they are able to live at home, call 562-370-3548.

Fix Long Beach low-cost pet-services clinics: selected days and times, 1749 Magnolia Ave., Long Beach, services available by appointment at

Fix Long Beach is taking appointments for low-cost spay/neuter, dental, vaccines and other vet needs for cats and dogs. Vaccination clinics take place on the second and fourth Thursday of each month. Visit their webpage or Facebook page for details.

DIY Kitten Care Kits available free at Long Beach Animal Care Services

Kitten season is still in bloom, and shelters and rescues are scrambling to save little lives, get them fixed, get them adopted. It isn’t unusual to find nests of young, seemingly abandoned kittens during kitten season. It is a natural reaction to want to help, to save them. If you are interested in obtaining a Kitten Care Kit made possible by Helen Sanders CatPAWS, please email [email protected].

Spay/neuter vouchers available at shelter

Long Beach Animal Care Services has spay/neuter vouchers available. They’ll take a healthy nip out of the cost of a procedure. Residents of any of the five cities served by the shelter—(see above)—can telephone the general number at 562-570–7387 to request a voucher.

Spay/neuter appointments available at SNP/LA

The Spay/Neuter Project of Los Angeles (SNP/LA) offers free and low-cost spay/neuter services, and they’re extending the hours of their vaccination clinics. The San Pedro clinic will give shots between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. every third Thursday at 957 N. Gaffey St. Call 310-574–5555 to see if you qualify for services.

If you can see the bottom of the kibble bag

Pets of the Homeless’s home page gives a self-description as the only organization focusing only on providing food and care for pets belonging to homeless people. Businesses and other organizations across the country receive in-kind donations of food and other needs that the dogs and cats’ human families can pick up at outreach locations. The following businesses will accept your donations:

Trendi Pawz, 3726 E. Seventh St., Long Beach.

Belmont Heights Animal Hospital, 255 Redondo Ave., Long Beach.

Paw Shoppe Pet Center, Inc., 6416 E. Spring St., Long Beach.

Food and supplies are available Mondays from 9 a.m. to noon and Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m. at Beacon for Him Ministries, 1535 Gundry Ave. Long Beach; and Thursdays from 9 to 11 a.m. at Christian Outreach in Action, 515 E. Third St., Long Beach, Donations will be gratefully accepted at these locations as well.

Adopt, adopt, adopt

White cat with tabby-patch ears and back stares upward, sitting in bowling-pin position in a glassed-in kennel with store products in background
Hopeful kitty resides at Pet Food Express’ adoption center.

In-furson events

Long Beach Animal Care Services’ Adoption Waggin: 10 a.m.–2 p.m., second Saturday of each month, Pet Supplies Plus, 2086 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach; 10 a.m..–2 p.m., last Saturday of each month, VBurger, 420 Cherry Ave., Long Beach, adoption fees apply

 The shelter’s favorite glamping vehicle for cats and dogs has been making the scene twice a month. Adopt at the locations and find either everything you need for your pet or a fine vegan lunch.

Pet Food Express Cat Adoption Center: 10 a.m.–8 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays, and 10 a.m.–7 p.m. .Sundays., Pet Food Express, 4220 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach, adoption fees apply.

This adoption center is a much-needed satellite operation of Long Beach Animal Care Services. Julie and her team pull adoptable cats—”adoptable,” to these guys, means any cat in a shelter kennel! The team socializes the kitties until they’re adopted, which takes less time than you could imagine!

Helen Sanders CatPAWS adoption centers: viewable daily during store hours, playtime Saturdays and Sundays between noon and 3 p.m., PetSmart, 12341 Seal Beach Blvd., Seal Beach; Petco Marina Shores, 6500 Pacific Coast Highway, third Saturday of every month between 1 and 3 p.m., Long Beach, adoption fees apply.

Window-shopping’s a neat pastime and likely has become more common during the pandemic. Helen Sanders CatPAWS has applied window-shopping to cat adoption; you can peer at several of the fine felines through the windows of the PetSmart adoption center in Seal Beach, and now, you can finally visit with them, scratch their little ears, and rub them under their chinny-chin-chins on Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m. Visitors to Petco  Marina Shores every third Saturday of the month can see them running around their playpens and cuddle them, too. Volunteers will answer questions and provide you with adoption information! Be sure to wear a mask. You can find adoption applications and all the kitties here.

Nota bon-e—fosters are needed everywhere!

two dogs and a cat on one border, two cats and two dogs on other. Caption says, "May we couch-surf at your place?"
May we couch-surf at your place?


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. Fosters are needed for kittens as well. 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.