The Scratching Post is a weekly newsletter from pets columnist Kate Karp, bringing you all the latest news on pet adoptions, animal welfare and ways to get involved.

The dilemma of the accidental rescuer

You’ve found a pet, usually a cat, and you post a photo on social media, and plead for help or rescue. Sometimes it works; usually, you get responses like “Bless your big heart,” “I wish I could, but I have four of my own,” or “Call Ms. Mousemouth’s Kitty Kollective—they’ll take them!”

A primal scream then emanates from Ms. Mousemouth’s because they’ve all been up until 2:30 a.m. trapping cats, managing volunteers, feeding colonies, schlepping pets to the vet, planning fundraisers, bottle-feeding a litter they knew better than to take, and rummaging through the garage for a misplaced tube of antibiotics. Plus, they have no room for more cats and just found a dog on the street.

My friend Brandy Gaunt, matron at Jellicle Cats Rescue Foundation, does a lot of that. She also has a demanding, full-time job and the curse of unlimited empathy, albeit tempered with self-restraint.

“I’m haunted by the faces of the kitties in my newsfeed that I can’t save,” Brandy said.

Brandy’s usually the Lewis Black of cat rescue—”Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I’m sorry about all the cats”—but lately she’s too spent, sleep deprived and discouraged to, as she put it, find her whimsy. Rescue, she said, is like emptying the ocean with a thimble, much like the effort to save the coral reefs in that ocean and at least as fruitless.

But we soldier on, she continued, “driven by inertia and the fact that if we don’t do it, nobody will, and the problem will continue to grow exponentially.”

Despite Brandy’s fatigue, she offers help whenever she receives a call, giving the caveat that she’s not going to do it for them.

“This is a community problem, and we desperately need the community to step up,” Brandy said, for the umpteenth time.

 The best way to find help, Brandy said, is to just do. She helped me cobble together a sample of suggestions for the accidental rescuer—they’ll start you in the right direction.

  1. Post ubiquitously on social media and utilize special Facebook pages like Community Bulletin Board: Cats Needing Homes and LA Underground Cat Network. “Make sure to include photos and your city so that the social-media networking fairies can target and tag the people who may be able to help or at least provide you with a resource list,” Brandy said. “Don’t count on the cavalry coming right away or even at all, but if you don’t post, there will certainly be no help coming.”
  2. Some rescues that have regular public adoptions will allow you to use an available kennel during adoption hours, but you’d have to take the pet home when the rescue leaves for the day.
  3. If you can keep the pet in your home, they’ll need to be quarantined for two weeks if you have any other pets to prevent possible spread of disease. Bathrooms or any spare room will do fine.
  4.  For dog’s sake, get them spayed or neutered when they’re old enough. Fixed pets have a better chance of adoption or foster. Get a voucher from your municipal shelter if they supply them. Book an appointment at a low-cost shelter, and pay the remainder out of your pocket or crowdfund for it. If—and this may sound cold—you ultimately have no choice but to return a cat to the outdoors, they at least won’t be making more cats. If you let the cat stay in your backyard, you can buy or build a shelter that’ll protect them from cold weather, dogs and coyotes.
  5. Finally, please don’t ask a rescue to take your pet. Know, too, that many shelters aren’t taking healthy cats, which, I admit, does rub a lot of fur the wrong way. But Jellicle Cats, Helen Sanders CatPAWS and Long Beach Animal Care Services provide resources that will hopefully motivate you to do more.

 “Everyone is a someone who can do something,” Brandy said. ”And right now, we need all the help we can get.”

Pets to adopt or foster

Recently, a friend of mine wanted to trap cats in her backyard, but she had no experience and I have next to none. So I put out a call for trapping tutoring, and two veteran trappers, the badass Gina Rubalcava and the hardnose Ewa Enrique, immediately responded. 

Here are some of their rescued proteges:

Vince the Voice, 4 months old, so named because he hasn’t shut up since the time he was trapped. Now, though, he’s yammering for attention rather than escape. He’s sweet and playful, and would make a great pet. Contact me at [email protected] if you want to foster or adopt Vince the Voice. He’s been fixed, vaxxed and microchipped.

Long Beach resident Dodie Reddington found three litters curled up together in a box inside an abandoned car. Two of the mother cats were MIA, and the third, an exhausted 7-month-old mama, was pulling wet-nurse duty to the seven kittens from two of the litters. The third set of littermates were already eating on their own.

There are now only two left to adopt. To cuddle, bond and ultimately adopt, email me at [email protected].

Ginger is a tortie who, like her name, is full of zest and liveliness. Her full tortitude hasn’t developed yet, so come get her while she’s a kitten!

Professor is a sleek, beautiful little guy. He has a heart condition that doesn’t seem serious, but Dodie can explain it if you have the heart to take this guy home and help him live a long life.

Pet events

A Hot Paw’gust Night: Friday, Aug. 18, EXPO Arts Center, 4321 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach, begins 6:30 p.m., $25, tickets available here. Friends of Long Beach Animals, Long Beach’s most venerable animal organization, is throwing a big bash to benefit some the great animal rescues in Long Beach. Have fun as you help fundraise—enter raffles, dance the evening away, have your photo taken, and lift a cocktail glass to all the great animal organizations.

Benny’s Sixth Birthday Party: Saturday, Aug. 26, 11 a.m.–3 p.m., Marina Community Center, 151 Marina Way, Seal Beach, $20, kids 10 and under free, tickets available here. Benny is a little cat who suffered horrible abuse when he was a kitten. After one of CatPAWS’ board members fell in love with him at the shelter, had him stitched up with the help of CatPAWS and the medical team at Long Beach Animal Care Services, he’s been living the life. And he’s about to turn 6—no one thought he’d make it to a year. Enjoy an included lunch, games, vendors, arts and crafts, adoptions.

Music for Mutts and Cats: Saturday, Aug. 26, 6-9 p.m., Syncopated Brewery, 3671 Industry Ave., Unit C1, Lakewood, raffle tickets $2 each. The “for” in the event title doesn’t imply an audience of dogs and cats tapping their claws on the tables and moving their tails to a syncopated beat. Nope—it’s a fundraiser organized by a shelter volunteer for the benefit of the animals at Long Beach Animal Care Services. Funds from raffle tickets will help support spay and neuter for all the pets who are staying at our shelter.

To see a list of local animal rescue groups, click here.