Virtually pets

The founders of the Long Beach Little Paws Project have established a safe haven that would, as its home page states, “give the tiniest and most vulnerable animal in a public shelter—a kitten under 8 weeks old—a chance to live.” In 2018, The Little Lion Foundation located a venue that seemed practicable for the purpose; with the financial support of fellow cat rescue Helen Sanders CatPAWS, permits were pulled, the doors opened in April 2019, and little newborn kitties were safely transported from Long Beach Animal Care Services and snuggled in the arms of bottle feeders or inside incubators to keep them warm if Momcat didn’t come with them.

Little Paws Project poised to raise healthy adoptable kittens

When 2020 comes to an end, Helen Sanders CatPAWS’ partnership agreement will expire. Long Beach’s longstanding pet-welfare organization Friends of Long Beach Animals will take over the financial needs of the nursery for 2021. Their board recently presented Little Paws head nursies Claudia Marie and Amanda Barajas with a check for $10,000 to match the amount raised in the nursery’s Long Beach Gives fundraising campaign. The money is going toward the nearly $30,000 needed to pay the lease and power bills for 2021.

a row of people in face masks looks at camera
Friends of Long Beach Animals Greg Covey, Tom Hanberg, Lauren Campbell; Little Paws volunteers Claudia Marie, Amanda Barajas, Jenny Waldkirch Sersion; FOLBA board member Marisa Strange.


blond woman in face mask holds up a placard thanking the organization
Like all well-brought-up children, the Little Paws kittens remembered to say thank you. Friends of Long Beach Animals board president Lauren Campbell displays placard expressing gratitude.

“We were impressed with the work [the rescuers] have been doing over the past few years for Long Beach, and we realized that it would be detrimental to the community if the kitten nursery were to disappear,” said FOLBA board president Lauren Campbell.

Marie said that the nursery saved 434 lives so far in their first year. The total has grown to just over 800 newborn kittens and mothers as of now.

“The cats go to transport, other rescues, and get adopted as well,” Marie said. “We’re looking for more rescue partners. You can become an approved rescue partner and pull from the nursery if you’re a licensed nonprofit rescue. And of course, fostering is fun.”

Earlier this year, Marie and Little Lion joined two other rescues, Helen Sanders CatPAWS and Live Love Animal Rescue, to virtually empty Long Beach Animal Care Services of furry residents when the shelter closed to the public because of the COVID-19 pandemic. All the pets went to fosters in the community. Such successes and new community-outreach sheltering models are spurring Marie and other organizations to engage further with residents and provide education and services as well as alternative models to sheltering, fostering in particular.

“We’re working on doing more community engagement and education,” Marie said. “We’re having wellness clinics with the shelter and organizing a mobile spay/neuter clinic that will hopefully help even more people in Long Beach. We’re also going to be doing a very small adoption center by appointment only. We’re not quite set up for that yet.”

Space is limited within the nursery, so logistics are being considered.

Marie said that the nursery needs more volunteers, particularly bottle feeders and fosters. Bottle feeding does involve the feeder to get up every two hours during the first week of a kitten’s life, increasing the number of hours by one as each week passes. It sounds strenuous, but Marie doesn’t think so.

“Bottle feedings are pretty easy for me,” she said. “There are fosters who just bottle-feed until [the kittens] weaned, which gives us the ability to pull them from the shelter right away. When they’re weaned and eating on their own, they transfer to the nursery until the next stage. It’s a whole-team effort—we have mentors there every step of the way.”

Fostering is simpler—a volunteer takes a cat home until it’s adopted. The only difficulty is the possibility of “foster-failing,” or keeping the cat forever. [I can attest to this, as can quite a few people I know, some who work at this medium.]

“We provide flea meds, the spay/neuter and adoption services,” Marie said. “We’ve kind of changed the model of the nursery so that they don’t all stay right here. The city seems to be moving to foster-based, and it’s also the nationwide model. The cats get more socialized and more care as they move toward adoption.”

The Long Beach Little Paws Project welcomes donations to put aside for the following year in the hopes of continuing their lifesaving effort.

“Guess what!” Marie said in a surprisingly chipper manner. “Kittens never stop coming!”

Information about fostering, bottle-feeding, donating and otherwise volunteering is available here. You can access photos of adoptables on the page as well. Here are Claudia Marie and Amanda Barajas with some candidates who want oouuuut!

Mama Melody

Madison and Mason

Thelma and Louise

Just fur fun

Holiday Boutique, presented by Sparky and the Gang Animal Rescue and Fix Long Beach: Sunday, Nov. 22, noon–5 p.m., 1749 Magnolia Ave., Long Beach, $20 donation.

Support local artists selling handcrafted goods, which make awfully good holiday gifts or just a splurge for you! The $20 donation at the door will get you vegan chili with cornbread, vegan tacos from OZO, warm apple cider, hot cocoa and a gift bag for your pooch that includes a holiday sweater, dress or collar. Santa will be there to take photos of you and your doggie, and Sheena Metal will do a spiritual reading and bless your pet. Enjoy the sounds of Corday as well as the adorable adoptable kitties from The Cat Cove! And snow! Snow will fall! A portion of the funds from the event will support Sparky and the Gang Animal Rescue. Masks are required, but we have it on good authority that one of the vendors will be selling some cute ones if you forget yours—or even if you don’t!

Bulldog-themed safety-mask preorder: Southern California Bulldog Rescue, $11 each.

What better way to protect yourself and others from those coronavirus cooties than with a faithful bulldog guardian at the gate! They’re two-ply non-medical grade protection that feel good and comfy. They’re also hand-washable. Best of all, these whimsical wearables support Southern California Bulldog Rescue! Order them here.

Help wanted, help given

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

Kitten season is just about up, but kittens still enter shelters. It isn’t unusual to find nests of young, seemingly abandoned kittens during kitten season. If you are interested in obtaining a Kitten Care Kit made possible by Helen Sanders CatPAWS, please email [email protected].

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 can telephone the general number at 562-570–7387 to request a voucher.

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

If you can see the bottom of the kibble bag:

Helen Sanders CatPAWS offers, through specific private donors, e-gift cards for people struggling during the crisis to buy food for their pets. The CatPAWS Spay/Neuter Fund, also privately funded, has vouchers available for anyone not able to go to the shelter for them. They also accept donations.

Pets of the Homeless’ home page gives a self-description as the only organization focusing solely 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 Long Beach 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 at Beacon for Him Ministries, 1535 Gundry Ave. Long Beach, Mondays from 9 a.m. to noon and Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m.; and at Christian Outreach in Action, 515 E. Third St., Long Beach, Thursday from 9 to 11 a.m. Donations will be gratefully accepted at these locations as well.

Adopt, adopt, adopt

Long Beach Animal Care Services Adoption Waggin’: Saturday, Dec. 5, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Salud Juice, 1944 E. Fourth St., Long Beach, adoption fees apply.

Long Beach Animal Care Services’ Adoption Waggin’ will roll by Salud Juice for a pet adoption event, with adoptable furry friends as passengers. This is a family-friendly event, and all are welcome. For the health and safety of our community, please wear a mask.

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. Sadly, no ear scratching or chin rubs at this time, but volunteers can answer questions and provide you with adoption information! Be sure to wear a mask. You can find adoption applications and all the kitties here.

Long Beach Animal Care Services monthly adoptions: Every second Saturday of each month, store hours, Pet Supplies Plus, 2086 N. Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach, adoption fees apply.

Long Beach Animal Care Services shows up with its fabulous Adoption Waggin’ equipped with air conditioning, running water and comfy kennels with cats, dogs and bunnies waiting to go home. Masks and social distancing required for visitors.

The following pet-related businesses regularly feature cat, dog and rabbit adoptions, but 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.