Monday, June 14, 2010

Summer days are over rated....if you are homeless

Warm San Francisco summer days are a double edged sword. The mild temperatures get people out of their houses and out onto the streets, riding bikes and off to the beach to lie in the sand. Unfortunately, a beautiful sunny day means nothing to a shelter cat. Another weekend goes by while they sit in a kennel waiting for someone special to come around. But….that special someone is off, having fun, kicking back with a brew and soaking up the rays. Sigh.

Every week leading up to the summer has been building and building like the onset of a thunderstorm. You can see the weather pattern slowly becoming something ominous and potentially monumental. Shelter reality is about to rain down on us real hard. Eventually there is nowhere to run for cover.

With kitten season upon us, adoptions for adult cats are down, leaving little space to bring in more, and forcing us to be quite inventive about where and how we are housing them. Not a day goes by that we are not strategizing how to save more lives while still keeping a close watch on the ones we have already committed to. What’s missing is the public help. You are the umbrella that keeps us dry during this perpetual storm of cats.

Not only are adult cats in need of homes, but formerly feral kittens, aka undersocialized kittens, are in great need of loving hands to show them the power of human compassion. If we do not strike while the iron is hot (between 4 to 8 weeks of age) these kittens continue on a path of hissing, growling, swatting and general fear of humans. While normal, happy, go-lucky kittens are being snatched up by the house-full, the shy ones wait for experienced adopters with quiet households.

To combat this problem, I've begun to teach a class on socializing scared kittens to our foster parents, which debuted this past weekend.  Quite simply, the more kittens that we can get into human hands for love and attention, the easier it will be for them to move on to forever homes. Our class covered positive reinforcement around handling and being picked up, proper home set ups and the infamous “burrito” method of wrapping a kitten in a towel with only her head showing to force socialization and acceptance. It is always great to add more shelter soldiers to the ranks.

The rewards we receive from turning shy kittens around come in small doses. One day a kitten is flat eared and hissing, the next day she's purring in your arms and playing with a toy. It takes a degree of patience to make a difference, but ultimately you are left with one feeling: I have changed not one life, but many. The human- animal bond has no limits, no boundaries and keeps us tied together in a necessary way.

You can keep your suntan lotion and cooler full of beer. We saved a six pack of kittens today.

Daniel Quagliozzi
Feline Care Coordinator

To learn how you can be involved in our life saving, kitten socialization programs, contact our foster department - we'll be waiting with open arms and adorable kittens....



Anonymous said...

I recently moved here from Germany and had to leave my cat behind with new owners (but they adore her and she likes them, so it is mostly just me who has to battle not having her around anymore), just because this studio I have here is way too small and does not allow pets.
And my other cat died in January this year, so after 20 years of always having cats around I suddenly don't have them. A really weird and still saddening feeling.

As soon as I figure out about a part-time job and see how much time I can spare I really want to get in touch with you. I would love to come by and take care of older and younger cats or even dogs. I cannot provide a foster home as of now, but maybe sometime in the future. For the time being I could be a play-mate for those fur-balls :)


San Francisco SPCA said...

Hi Lisa!

Welcome to town! We'd love to have you volunteer at the adoption center, and work with our kitties. Please contact our Volunteer Department at 415 522-3523 or at for information on signing up!

dani said...

Ha! You must get the "I want to volunteer!" comment a lot. My application has been stuffed in its envelope and is waiting to find a mail box now :)

Again, thank you for all the great work (all of) you do.