Virtually pets

One of the few silver linings about the COVID-19 pandemic is the number of pets adopted, fostered, and foster-failed—the latter being the hoped-for “job hazard” of temporarily taking in an animal and deciding to make the arrangement permanent. People have time on their hands and want to perk up with a pet. They soon discover that taking care of a cat, a dog or a rabbit is less an epic project and more a labor of love, with emphasis on “love.”

I was scrolling through some emails and came across one from Katie Blakeley, the vice president and head of pet insurance at MetLife. The gist of the email wasn’t to sell me a policy for my purrboxes but instead to share a concern about the number of recent adopters who are new to living with and caring for an animal, particularly regarding the seasonal warnings about pet safety.

That is a bone to chew on. For the sake of newbie human companions, here’s the Christmas list of things to watch out for.

  • Three of Blakeley’s main concerns are singed fur from getting too close to a space heater; chewing on a poinsettia, mistletoe and holly and ingesting the sap, making the pet sick to their stomach; and to keep dogs’ paws covered so that they won’t step on sidewalk salt—not a big worry in SoCal, but if you’re planning a staycation in the timeshare in Tahoe, be mindful.
  • Adding to Blakeley’s tips, if you have a Christmas tree, anchor it so that it doesn’t fall on the dog when the cat climbs it. Tinsel, with its tantalizing dangle and shiny surface, should also be out of reach. Many a pet, cats in particular, have to be rushed to pet emergency every holiday to get expensive, extensive surgery to separate the glitter from the gut.
  • The water in the container at the tree base is not a punch bowl for pets. Tree water can contain chemicals, which can cause digestive malfunction. As for the lights, be sure the wires are out of chewing reach, particularly if you have a bunny or other gnawing mammal.
  • Keep the menorah or kinara lights out of reach of nosy noses and batting paws.

Most importantly, whether you’re a newbie human companion or someone who’s had house animals since your were a toddler, pets are not presents and must never, ever be sprung on someone as a surprise. Ever. A number of shelter residents are former gifts that couldn’t be returned. But you and I both know that people promise pets for the holidays to children, partners or friends. Instead of the puppy or kitten in the stocking, provide this coupon for paying adoption fees. You can add any perks you want to provide: litter boxes, food, leashes, toys—anything. Then, you and the lucky person scour the shelters and rescues until the recipient falls in love, and vice versa.

Coupon for a pet adoption, with silhouettes of a dog, a cat and a rabbit, offering to pay adoption fee
Art by Michelle Manion

Pets aren’t commodities—they’re friends and lifetime commitments, and they all deserve the gift of a forever home. Here are a few hopefuls from our shelter at Long Beach Animal Care Services, 7700 E. Spring St., at the entrance to El Dorado Park and the Nature Center. Parking is free to shelter visitors. Because the shelter is closed to the public, adoption appointments are conducted through email. Email [email protected] or call 562-570-7387.

Mako (ID# A647697), 4 years old, is an owner surrender that has been here since August. He is playful and loves playing fetch. We recommend an experienced owner for him! Watch him having fun with buddy volunteer Gary!

Here’s a Prince (ID#A649910) waiting for that kiss that will transform him into a happy housecat! Prince is about 6 years old.

Merry (ID#A652142), 2 years old, with an appropriate seasonal moniker. Please, please spay and neuter your cats.

Just fur fun

Zazzy Cats Pampered Chef Christmas Fundraiser: through Dec. 18, information and daily themes at this link.

Love to cook? Love kitchen gadgets? Love cats? Here’s a win-win-win for you! Join in on this fundraiser—different themes each day and prizes to win, plus an assortment of merchandise for your kitchen or as a gift idea. Pampered Chef will donate 15% of sales over $250 to Zazzy Cats Kitty Rescue. Hate to cook? Make a donation to Zazzy Cats so that their little fosters can eat!

Cats & Mats Yoga, presented by Feline Good Social Club: Dec. 19, 10:30–11:45 a.m., free event, livestreaming here.

Wouldn’t you love to stretch like a cat? If so, join Feline Good Social Club for a free relaxing and restorative session with supurr-special yoga instructor Melissa. The lounge’s cats—all of whom are adoptable, by the way—will wander in and out to show off their own skills. As a thanks to the lounge, you can make donations in cash or objects on their wish list on this page.

Sparky and the Gang’s Puppy and Product holiday shopping: 1749 Magnolia Ave., by appointment only, prices vary.

Sparky et al cancelled last Sunday’s holiday- fundraiser, but savvy shoppers can support a small rescue until the goodies go. Whimsical handmade wreaths, beautifully crafted antique and rescue-themed jewelry, succulents and all manner of stuff to make things merry are on display at Sparky’s location. Prime among the goodies are the barbecue and hot sauces and gift sets from The Spicy Kitchen in Long Beach. Visit Sparky and the Gang’s Facebook page to see video presentations of all the neat things, and send a message to make an appointment or text Sparky at 310-809-6374.

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 2-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

Operation Santa Paws goes virtual

Haute Dogs’ beloved sleigh ride to the animal shelters is, like everything else, going virtual this holiday. Santa Paws (who bears a striking resemblance to both Justin Rudd and Peter Krause) is asking us animal lovers to collect items—toys, food, treats, shelter cleaning supplies—and taking them in your own sleigh directly to the shelters and rescues. Don’t want to venture outdoors? No prob—make your list and check it twice or more in the Links to loveables section at the end of The Scratching Post. Each of the shelters and rescues listed has a donation button, and many have wish lists for food, toys, supplies and other needs. Visit Santa Paws for more information.

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. It is a natural reaction to want to help, to save them. But before you jump in, consider these steps outlined here. 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.

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 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 Long Beach businesses will accept your donations:

Trendi Pawz, 3726 E. Seventh St.

Belmont Heights Animal Hospital, 255 Redondo Ave.

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

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

Pet Food Express Cat Adoption Center: weekdays and Saturday 10 a.m.– 8p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m.–7 p.m., 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 center: viewable daily during store hours, PetSmart, 12341 Seal Beach Blvd., Seal 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. 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.

Links to loveables

The following shelters and rescues 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.