Otis spoke about more than the kitty spark plugs and spark plugs that saved her and her volunteer team from precarious health conditions and injuries. Otis is co-founder of The Little Paws Kitten Nursery under the Little Lion umbrella. “Umbrella” is an apt metaphor this time around – the nursery has protected the lives of about 2,500 newborns and spayed and neutered adults to keep them from producing more. Little Lion and Helen Sanders CatPAWS opened the nursery in April 2019 – it is now managed exclusively by Little Lion.
Little Paws Project is ready to raise healthy adoptable kittens
On that day, Otis was preparing Little Lion’s newly expanded nursery and headquarters for its public debut on Saturday, April 30 Great furballs full of fun for details). Last year, the shop next door closed, and Little Lion’s landlord offered Otis the option to take over the space and expand the nursery’s facilities and programs. The expansion would increase the area from 1,100 square feet to 2,100. So on January 1st, Little Paws took the keys and got to work.
“It was completely empty in here — the floor was a mess, with cracked tiles, so we had to redo the whole thing,” Otis said. “We built new walls – that was a lot of money.”
Also time and wisdom. A few years earlier, Otis and the volunteers in a pet supply store that was about to close had thrown themselves into an entire adoption center, kennels and all. From an Orange County cat cafe that succumbed to the COVID-19 shutdown, rescuers secured quirky little wall bars and stair climbers for little cats’ feet and hips. Little Lion stocked all of this and more for two years, and earlier this year they traveled to HQ in a U-Haul and installed everything in the new rooms.
Little Paws, which was originally spacious but was limited to what could fit in one unit, now has a communal cat room next to the nursery where up to 21 captive cats and other cats in recovery from surgery can recover; the Enrichment Lounge, where fully vaccinated kittens and cats can play and adopters can meet their new best friends; an isolation room for severe contagious medical cases; and a community wellness and education space where volunteers can demonstrate how to care for newborn kittens, how to effectively capture, spay and neuter and return cats to where they came from, and what people need to take care of theirs taking care of pets. Most wonderfully, Little Lion staff and volunteers now have space for a proper office instead of a table sandwiched between kennels and incubators.
“We just did a community wellness event with Long Beach Animal Care Services — people’s pets got free vaccinations, microchips — all that stuff to stop animals going to shelters because people can’t afford the care ‘ Otis said. “We aim to give food gifts at least once a month. We have held kitten care workshops and we take foster children here – we teach them how to take care of newborns. We have big plans!”
One of the plans is to expand the “kitten control” program. Most of the kittens Little Lion rescues come from animal shelters in a variety of ways. One of them is the shelter diversion, where kittens are taken in before they can reach the shelter. Shelter diversion is managed jointly with SEACCA Shelter in Downey, which serves eight cities east of Los Angeles. SEACCA recommends rescues where the cats breed outdoors and the volunteers capture and take care of them.
“People call the shelters and say, ‘There are way too many cats and they’re having babies,'” Otis said. “The shelter contacts us and we go out and look at the location. Then we catch as many cats as possible and fix them. You won’t get every single one if you leave, so we’ll go back and clean up the stragglers.”
Long Beach Animal Care Services takes in kittens and often nursing mothers. LBACS is contacting Little Lion and other cat rescues to raise kittens, particularly newborns and recently weaned ones.
Once the kittens are weaned, they are socialized and adopted. The mothers and fathers are vaccinated and spayed or neutered so they cannot make more kittens. They will also be fitted with an earplug to identify them as repaired. They are then returned to the area they came from unless they show up to be cuddly and adoptable.
The expansion of rescue, both in area and in programs, shows an increased need for volunteers. The core group carries their claws to Nubbins, feeds newborns every few hours, socializes healthy kittens, tends to the sick ones, and disinfects everything, especially the iso room.
Of course, they’ll need additional funding for the projects, which Otis said they secure through “lots of begging.” She hopes that when people visit the new headquarters, she won’t have to beg. Cats don’t need to!
Visit The Little Lion Foundation’s new headquarters Saturday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. There will be pie.
Meet some graduates of the Kitten-Control Project! Find anything you need to know about adopting one of them at this link.
Great Furballs of Fun
Adult and special-needs cat-adoption day: Saturday, April 30, 11 a.m.–1 p.m., Pet Supplies Plus, 2806 Bellflower Blvd. (next to Lazy Acres), Long Beach, adoption fees apply
All shelters and rescues are rushing to get kittens healthy and adopted into loving homes. But our shelter at Long Beach Animal Care Services and the Helen Sanders CatPAWS rescue don’t want the adult kitties left in the lurch, and that includes the cats with special needs. This Saturday, CatPAWS is covering the adoption fee for all cats adopted at this event (adopters will be screened as always) and will provide the adopters with a $50 Pet Supplies Plus gift card, which will take a healthy chomp out of all your new friend’s wants and needs!
Little Lion Foundation Headquarters Grand Opening: Saturday, April 30, 3–6 p.m., 1175 E. Wardlow Road, Long Beach, free event.
How they’ve grown! Not just the kittens but the nursery. Mingle with the meowers and the humans, tour the expanded facility, and learn about the rescue’s lifesaving programs. Enjoy refreshments, participate in a raffle, and meet some kittens! Parking available in lot behind building.
Adopt, adopt, adopt
Long Beach Animal Care Services open Saturdays and Sundays, with no appointment necessary
Please make our shelter at Long Beach Animal Care Service your first stop for adoption—it continues to fill with dogs and cats. LBACS is now open without any appointment necessary on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for adoptions and for intake of healthy stray dogs. If you can’t come Sundays, appointments to adopt one of these sweet animals are readily available at [email protected] or 562-570-4925.
Appointments are easily possible from Wednesday to Saturday. Since June 2021, the animal shelter has also been open for the return of your own pets without an appointment regular business hours and also accepts any sick, dangerous or injured animal without prior notice during normal business hours. For the delivery of a healthy animal or the adoption of a pet, appointments during the regular opening hours are still required, with the exception of the Sunday opening hours mentioned above.
Foster for a while – or forever!
If you’ve always wanted a pet but aren’t sure if you’re ready for a lifelong commitment (of the pet), or if for some reason you’ve moved beyond the days of pet roommates, a foster home could be one be a good possibility, especially if one or more kittens show up in the meantime kitten season. Each of the organizations listed below is in dire need of foster parents to socialize and help save their little lives. Who knows – maybe one of these lifetimes will change your mind about the fact that you’re not ready for a roommate!
These nonprofit organizations also regularly offer cat, dog, and rabbit adoptions. Adoptions are currently mainly by appointment. In case of any updates or changes, click on the links for each rescue. These organizations work with donations and grants, and anything you can give would be appreciated. Please suggest rescues in the Long Beach area to add to the list.