TNR? RTF? How these programs are helping stem kitten season in Long Beach
The second installment of dealing with kitten season and adopting some cats comes courtesy of our city shelter, Long Beach Animal Care Services.
City shelters, and ours is one of them, are responsible for intake of animals among a great many other things. In the space of a few years, Long Beach Animal Care Services has managed to do a heck of a job of sharply lowering the number of pets subject to euthanasia and greatly raising the number of live releases to original owners, rescues and people like you and me who take them home for as long as forever lasts.
Since March 2020 and the effects of pandemic limitations, the efforts to continue to do it all have been not weakened but challenged to the max. “Managed intake,” or “managed admission,” for instance, has come to be the process of operation for many shelters across the country, including ours. Long Beach Animal Care Services has been open to the public by appointment only, and people wishing to surrender healthy animals or adopt them and take them home must follow protocols different from the previous ones (see end of this section for information).
Shelters offer alternatives to surrender and suggest resources for anyone needing to turn a pet in to the facility.
The pandemic is having a similar effect during kitten season. Before the world changed, well-meaning people would shlep boxes of newborns to the shelter, some with mothers attached. The orphans and families would be turned over to rescues that bottle-feed kittens or cared for by staff at the shelter. Would-be rescuers would also be educated about first spending a few hours monitoring any bunch of kittens thought to be abandoned to determine that Mom isn’t out grocery shopping. Now, as then, Long Beach Animal Care Services offers DIY Kitten Care Kits that Helen Sanders CatPAWS donates to the shelter. The kits include items that help the humans to safely raise the kittens. Many people shut up in their homes for months have found it rewarding to give life to the helpless creatures and watch them grow.
Cutting the supply at the source is another way that shelters and the public help bring down the numbers of cats and kittens that enter the shelter. Two programs—TNR, for trap/neuter (and spay)/return and RTF, for return to field—have helped lower both intake and euthanasia. RTF at Long Beach Animal Care Services is a collaborative effort between the shelter and the feline-advocacy group Stray Cat Alliance. RTF involves trapping cats who seem to be at loose ends or be “loosely owned”—everyone’s feeding them, but no one lays claim. The cats are brought to the shelter and are evaluated—scanning for microchips, checking to see if anyone’s looking for them. After spaying or neutering, the goal is to get them back home, whether it’s in someone’s living room or where they’d been hanging out before they were trapped and fixed.
“Sometimes, the owner comes to shelter and reclaims them—though it happens rarely—or they’re returned [to where they were found] after vigilance to find out where they live,” said Staycee Dains, director of Long Beach Animal Care Services. “Or we find them a new home. When it’s not super-straightforward, we do more investigating. What might happen with that animal depends on what is revealed. That is our approach—treating each cat as an individual.”
TNR involves collective community action. Residents troubled by the wandering, littering kitties hanging in their neighborhoods and wanting to help stem the birth of kittens during the season often contact local rescues or organizations like Stray Cat Alliance for advice, creating a plan and finding like-minded humans. They might buy humane small-animal traps, plunk down a deposit and borrow one from the shelter, or team up with a group of a few of those like-minded humans.
“With COVID-19, the world changed. People were home more, seeing what was happening in the neighborhood, and going on social media,” said Stray Cat Alliance’s Anna Wong, who ran the RTF program for Long Beach Animal Care Services for seven years. “It became an at-home advocacy that we haven’t seen before. People really wanted to help the cats where they were. We found that that the population of people—the ones that wanted to get rid of all the cats—was diluted by the number of people who were at home and networking through social media. People would call and say, we found a cat, what do we do, and we give them vouchers [for spay/neuter), give them the DIY kit, and call Stray Cat Alliance if there’s a really serious problem. It was an opportunity to help them realize that the shelter is a resource for understanding what to do, and not a dumping ground.”
Dains and Wong said that in seven years, the collaboration between Long Beach Animal Care Services and Stray Cat Alliance has saved 5,483 cats and kittens as of March 26. This also means that countless unwanted litters that would ordinarily take up kennel space and funding won’t be born in Long Beach Animal Care Services’ jurisdiction.
“In 2013, the shelter received almost 4,400 cats and kittens, and over 3,200 were put down of those 4,400,” Dains said. “In 2019, we took in around 3,000, and 400 were put down.”
A lot of people think that it’s still 400 too many, and Dains agrees.
“It is too many to die, and that’s why we’re continuing [RTF] and modifying it,” she said. “In the year of COVID, we had a 97% save rate. Now, it’s about sustainability and making sure it’s a community-integrated program. Stray Cat Alliance has been doing an amazing job in educating and training the public.”
If you’re concerned about the cats and kittens you see where you live and want to get personally involved in preventing the birth of more unwanted kittens, TNR is one way to do it. Email [email protected] for details.
To make an appointment to bring in a stray animal, email [email protected] or call 562-570-7387. To re-home a pet, access the rehoming app sponsored by Adopt-a-Pet before contacting the shelter.
Meanwhile, Long Beach Animal Care Services’ staff and volunteers care for all those turned-in and friendly trapped cats now living in the kennels. They cuddle them on their laps and get silly with them on the catio outdoors as the kitties wait for people like us to take them home and love them some more.
The following “State Cats” comprise an example of the tough work that the Long Beach Animal Care Services animal control officers, veterinarians and volunteers, do to help cats and kittens in distress. There are six cats named for cities and states across the country. All of them were in terrible states themselves when someone discovered them in a squalid, dirty RV. They’d been shut in for a week with no food or water.
They’re far better off now, but their best lives would, of course, be led in comfortable, loving homes where they’ll no longer have to worry about where their meals are coming from. To meet any of them, visit this link and complete an application. You can also contact the shelter at 562-570-4925 or at [email protected].
Never mind Georgia on my mind—it’s Georgia on my lap! Georgia is a total lap kitty, said LBACS head cat volunteer Susan. Here’s the lovely girl demonstrating the right way to give a nose boop. Georgia’s 14 and would love to spend her golden years with you!
Terri is a big, chonky girl who loves her considerable tummy rubbed!
Just fur fun and fur-ther education
Seal Beach Animal Care Center bake sale, in support of their Kitten Foster Program: Saturday, April 3, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. (or until the cookies crumble), Clancy’s, 111 Main Street, Seal Beach, donations
Seal Beach Animal Care Services is offering a sweet deal—any donation you want to make in exchange for a baked goodie. All funds raised will help finance the foster program that helps with fostering many of those kittens that you’ve been reading about. The kittens will be around a lot longer than the cookies and cakes, so get there early!
Jackson Galaxy’s Cat Camp: Saturday, April 10, 10 a.m., online event, register here
Following two successful virtual events in 2020, Jackson Galaxy’s Cat Camp, the acclaimed event for animal enthusiasts of all stripes, patches and solid colors is back for a springtime celebration to engage and inspire cat lovers around the world, thanks to a generous investment by Petco Foundation. Reinvented as a virtual event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cat Camp’s mission is to educate, entertain and empower by providing the right tools to every individual interested in helping kitties. It’s a lot of fun! Camp activities will feature interactive content, both entertaining and educational, that includes harness and clicker training—including how to teach cats to high-five, caring for kittens, fundraising ideas, how to best serve community cats and so much more, followed by an “After Pawty” full of cat-themed activities, games and prizes. Meet “My Cat from Hell’s” Jackson Galaxy along with Christina Ha, co-owner of NYC’s first Cat Café, Meow Parlour and its affiliates; and Hannah Shaw (aka “Kitten Lady”), who will focus on inspiring attendees to “level up” their skills on their journey to helping cats in the home and the community.
Help wanted, help given
Feline Good Social Club needs willing subjects for its bewhiskered nobility
Feline Good Social Club has opened and is running and knocking things off shelves. The cat curators would love some volunteers for their furry residents. Want to be part of a kowtowing staff to cats because everyone knows that cats expect it? Email [email protected].
Fix Long Beach low-cost pet-services clinic: Wednesday–Saturday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m., 1749 Magnolia Ave, Long Beach, services available by appointment at www.fixlongbeachpets.com.
Fix Long Beach has reopened and is taking appointments for low-cost spay/neuter, dental, vaccines and other vet needs for cats and dogs. Visit their webpage or Facebook page for details.
DIY Kitten Care Kits available free at Long Beach Animal Care Services
Kitten season has begun, and soon, shelters and rescues will be scrambling to save their 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) 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
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 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., 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.–8 p.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 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.
- Bunny Bunch
- Cat Cove
- Friends of Long Beach Animals
- Fix Long Beach
- Foreverhome Pet Rescue, Inc.
- Feline Good Social Club
- Helen Sanders CatPAWS
- House of Broken Cookies
- Jellicle Cats Foundation
- Little Lion Foundation
- Live Love Animal Rescue
- Long Beach Animal Care Services
- Long Beach Spay & 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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