Friday, June 18, 2010

Kittens, kittens everywhere! SFSPCA’s 1st Ever Adopt-A-Thon

It’s officially kitty season and you know what that means…an abundance of cats that are looking for a loving home and a little TLC. The SFSPCA is filled to capacity with adorable feline friends worthy of a serious heart-melting session and who are also part of the SFSPCA’s first-ever Adopt-A-Thon!

Join us in a history-making event for SFSPCA as we host our Adopt-A-Thon this Saturday, June 19th, from 10 a.m. to midnight. That’s right... we said MIDNIGHT! We’ll be up late in an effort to meet our goal of finding homes for 50 cats and recruiting 50 foster volunteers. Learn more about the available cats here and our kitty foster program here.

So be sure to stop by the SFSPCA to help us achieve some amazing goals for our first-ever Adopt-A-Thon!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Trauma...Episode: Foster Kitten

The TV show Trauma, about paramedics here in San Francisco, may have been cancelled, but here at the San Francisco SPCA, we had our own version of an episode last week and it’s a heartwarming story of what a great group of people we have on staff here at the SFSPCA.

Our Foster Care Program thrives on the love and dedication our foster parents provide. Without these volunteers, thousands of lives would go unsaved. In addition to volunteers like you, from the community, a number of our staff are also foster parents...spending their days caring for animals here at our campus, then returning home to continue the same work.

Laura, a member of our Development Department, has been fostering kittens, giving them much needed TLC and attention to encourage healthy eating and growth. “The male was doing really poorly all day, had not eaten at all, and was fading in and out…I actually was convinced he was dying - he face planted into the water bowl and seemed to stop breathing,” she said. Laura found herself uncertain what to do – it was 1:00 am and she had no car, and her local taxi company was reporting an hour wait.

With a kitten she was concerned was fading quickly in her lap, she got on Facebook and immediately messaged one of our Shelter Medicine Vet Techs, Meagan, who was online. Several messages later, Meagan talked Laura through what was happening – a hypo-glycemic episode – and suggested Laura feed honey to get the kitten’s glucose levels up.

Through quick thinking and fast internet messaging, Laura got in touch with two of our Animal Care Attendants, Sarah and Jennifer, and they raced over to give her a ride into the City. Meanwhile, Meagan contacted Vet Tech Adam, who was manning the overnight shift at our own hospital, and arranged a 3:00 am intake.

Less than an hour later, the once-fading kitten was thriving in our hospital, and on his way to a full recovery.

He and his litter mates are now safely housed in our Shelter Medicine department, healthy again and gaining strength. This is an amazing story of the SFSPCA team coming together to save an animal’s life and it’s a tribute to people going above and beyond the call to help animals.

We hope our staff involved don't mind us calling them out here, but gosh -- we had to let you know how fantastic they are!

a bleating moment...

There’s an unfamiliar sound coming from the hallways of the San Francisco SPCA this summer….. We’re used to barking, meowing, hisses and howls. But right now, there’s a definite bleating going on.

We’ve got goats.

As part of our ongoing quest for the coolest Humane Education program on earth, this summer, we’ve teamed up with City Grazing, based here in San Francisco, and introduced 10 goats to our summer camp curriculum. Under ordinary circumstances, City Grazing coordinates their goats to act as the ultimate all natural weed and dry grass clearers. For this lucky group of goats, their summer will be spent teaching campers about compassion for all animals, not just dogs and cats.

Our summer visitors are mostly female, with a few males mixed in, and right around 4 months old (don’t worry – the males are all wethers – neutered in goat speak – so they’ll be no accidental baby goats!) All have names, and each one has a distinct personality. We’re going to have such a great time getting to know each one.

While staying with us, the goats will reside in their own luxurious accommodations, far from the barks and meows of the adoption center. Sunny spots to relax, plenty of nooks and crannies to play hide and seek (they do!).


They’ll dine on the finest of goat friendly meals and be socialized and interacted with on a daily basis by our staff and volunteers. Our campers will have the unique opportunity to help feed and care for these guys and gals, and learn that goats too, can learn their name, a few tricks, and become quite sociable!

This week, being so new to our building (and to us!), our campers are working on slow, quiet introductions, armed with a goat’s favorite treat – corn flakes! Over a few days, the goats will gradually learn to trust the campers more, and interact regularly. From the looks of our first visit, these goats and campers are going to be fast friends!


Stay tuned through the summer for photos and tales from our Humane Education department’s work with these fabulous animals. And if you’ve got an animal loving kid at home – they can join the fun! Space is still available for many of our Summer Animal Camps!

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....


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Welcome to Cougartown

Right now, at the SFSPCA Maddie’s Adoption Center, we’re overflowing with feline faces. 

Sure, we have the requisite young kittens, but down these halls there’s another group of cats – our Cougars. These guys and gals have been around a little longer, been waiting a little more patiently.  They've seen a little more life, experienced a few more sunrises and sunsets than our younger residents.
Day after day, they see their younger, bouncier counterparts make a love connection and head out the door to their new life.  We’d like to introduce you to a few of these on the prowl for love guys and gals, and ask that you take some time to get to know them. Each of these gorgeous cats has years left to love, and is over the brim with purrs and affection. 

Take a look… You may just find the love you’ve been looking for all along.
And remember...this month...all month our Cat-A-Palooza!  That means, if you come into our adoption center, find a kitty (6 months and older) you would like to take home all for keeps-like, we'll let you name your own adoption fee!  Does it get better than that?  

Faithful readers...have you adopted an adult cat?  Tell us what sparked that love, and why you chose your companion. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tales from a Foster Parent.....Goodbye and Hello...

Onion and BBQ weighed in at a little over two pounds last week so I emailed Alison and set up a time to take them in and get them ready for the adoption center. We all said our goodbyes and packed them in their little carrier and I drove them to the SFSPCA. Before going in I filled out an information sheet on each of the kittens, information for the adoptive parents that outlined any special needs the kittens had. These two ate well, both wet and dry food and were healthy and friendly so I knew they would be adopted quickly. And they were, Monday morning I heard back that Onion and BBQ had been adopted out over the weekend. I’m so happy because I know they will make really good pets.

While I was dropping the kittens off, my husband was at home disinfecting the kittens room so that we couldreceive new ones. So right after Alison received Onion and BBQ, she brought me out three new foster kittens to take home. Stewart, Samson and Selena came home with me that day. The sad moment of giving two kittens over was replaced by excitement at having three new tiny kitties.

The first day the kittens were shy, just as Onion and BBQ had been. They hid in their box and ate hesitantly. We gave them space, but frequently dropped by their room to pick them up and pet them a little. The next morning they hid in the box when I came in, but by the end of that same day they were running out to meet us and crying a little for our attention.

Samson is the smallest of the three and we have to keep our eye on him. He cries more and this distresses our resident cat a little. When I put the food out, Selena and Stewart tend to push him out of the way so I have to feed Samson first and apart from the others sometimes. And since the kittens are so young, they still want to suckle and they have chosen Samson’s stomach as the place to suckle. I wrote to Alison about it and she gave me some good advice, but that behavior seems to be dropping off on its own.

By now we have adjusted to each other. Its still entertaining to us to see the slightly uncoordinated kittens play and fall over each other. When we visit them, they all tilt their heads to look at us. They sleep in one little lump and meow together at me when they see me preparing the food. I’m getting a routine down with the kittens but I hope their cuteness never loses its charm on me.

I feel so fortunate to get to do this.


Do you have room in your home to foster this summer?  You just need a few weeks, an extra room and a whole lot of love.  Learn how you can become part of this life saving program!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


June is Adopt-a-Cat Month, and here at the San Francisco SPCA, we've got all sorts of fun in store all month long! If you've been thinking about bringing a new feline friend into your life - now is the time!

For all the details, and directions to our adoption center, please visit our website

Monday, June 7, 2010

Stories from the front line...

And So....The Troops Move On.
I swear, cats are better than coffee. At least, that’s the way I choose to wake myself up in the morning. Another day, another cart load of cats found their way to the SF/SPCA.

The Feline Care Coordinator has to face the same challenge every day. Who will be the best candidates for adoption and where am I going to house them in a shelter already filled to capacity with cats and kittens? Combining the science of shelter medicine, cat behavior and the logistics of housing them appropriately, cats are taken from San Francisco Animal Care and Control (ACC) each day and moved into the San Francisco SPCA for adoption or medical recovery.

The flow never stops. There is no rhyme, no reason, no timing or predictability. Cats just keep coming in and you have to do the best you can to keep them healthy, happy and headed towards homes, no matter how tired you are, no matter what’s happening in the world around you. Animal welfare stops for no one and quite frankly, this is the life we chose. I am thankful for my place in this collective effort, every morning I hear those cries for help.

This weekend was especially heavy for intake. We took seven adult cats from ACC in just one morning, including four black cats and an injured cat that fell out of a window and suffered an apparent stab wound or impalement to the stomach. “Geez, this is going to be a long morning”, I told myself. With the onset of kitten season and the economy literally dumping cats into our shelter, the challenge is to be prepared for anything and I do mean anything!
After spending my morning at ACC evaluating cats and kittens for adoption candidacy, I push the cart full of cats across the street and back to our Shelter Medicine intake room for their first physical exam. We rule out any immediate concerns on the first day, thus paving the way for appropriate housing and care. Our Animal Care Attendants scramble to provide kennels complete with the enrichment they will need. It’s triage at its truest definition.

Today, the room is full. The techs are stretched thin, working on treatments for our maxed out cat & dog population and still…we charge forward with seven more. Tomorrow will likely be no different then today. Bring it on.

After these cats are examined, housed and fed, its time to keep a close watch on their behavior. Sometimes cats stress out in shelter environments. Let’s face it, they were probably very comfortable in their prior home before they ended up “in the system”. Understandably, cats will stop eating, tense up and react harshly to attention in an unfamiliar setting. Sometimes you find out the hard way that cats don’t like other cats. Hmmm, now where do we house you?

As each day grows closer to adoption, we hope and pray that all our hard work pays off. Each cat deserves an army of animal lovers to help them find their way. I am proud to be a soldier in that army. The war calls to us. Every day we open our eyes in the morning. They need us. They need you.

Daniel Quagliozzi
Feline Care Coordinator
The San Francisco SPCA

You can sponsor a cat in the care of Daniel and the Feline Care team, and assist the SFSPCA in our work to place more animals, and save more lives.  Visit our website for more information.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tales from a kitten foster mom...the resident cat....

Lugo is our resident cat. We got him a year ago at an animal shelter and he lives with us all the time. Cats can be very territorial, but Lugo has been quite tolerant of Onion and BBQ, watching them from a distance but mostly just ignoring them. The SPCA asks us to keep the foster kittens separate from the resident cat and we have not had any trouble with this until the day the kittens got vaccinated.

Part of my responsibility as a foster parent is to make sure the kittens get vaccinated on time and I had my appointments all lined up. I braved the rain and took the kittens in, looking forward to seeing their weight on a good scale. Onion weighed .83 grams and BBQ weighed .97 grams. BBQ weighed enough to stay for adoption, but they like to keep the kittens together as long as possible, so he will stay with us until Onion weight is up more. Both kittens have gained well and are healthy, but Onion needs to get closer to a kilo before he can be adopted.
Returning home after the vaccination, I spent a little extra time with the kittens, keeping an eye on them and comforting them like I would a child after a shot. Resident cat Lugo kept an eye on me from a distance. The day got busy after that and the kittens were doing well, so I did the things I needed to accomplish that day.
In the middle of the night, I noticed Lugo was not sleeping in his normal spot at the foot of my bed. I went to look for him and found him sleeping outside the kittens room. He was there in the morning as well. Lugo continued to act a little strange, fussing and meowing a little more than usual. It seemed like our resident cat just needed a little more attention, so we spent more time with him, sitting close, petting and playing with him, then brought out some new toys for Lugo to bat around.
Resident cat Lugo recovered and has gone back to ignoring the foster kittens and sleeps at the foot of our bed again. Over the long weekend we had a lot of visitors, all of them enjoyed Onion and BBQ at this fun stage. A couple expressed interest in adopting one or the other and that would be possible when the kittens are big enough and the paperwork is done for the SPCA.
San Francisco is a city that loves animals. At the laundromat today I met a dog adopted after the fall out from hurricane Katrina. This dog is now being trained by the SFSPCA to help special needs children. The dog that was rescued now serves to help children. Something just feels right about.

I can’t wait to see what happens with Onion and BBQ.

And of course -- gratuitous photos of the kittens!

Caught the foster kitten bug?  Learn how to get involved!