From Where We Are

Fostering the new way of coping with quarantine

With Animal care and control closing shelters with COVID restrictions nonprofits and volunteers are stepping up to house stray cats and kittens

Stay at home orders have changed lives. Particularly the Los Angeles stray adult cat population and their kittens.

Early March, Animal Care and Control fully closed two shelters, leaving only four to handle virtual adoptions. These closures limited their intake and resources for the estimated million feral cats in Los Angeles.

This places cat rescue organizations like Kitty Bungalow, a South Los Angeles nonprofit, at the forefront of care. Kitty Bungalow traps, neuters, and returns feral adult cats back to where they were found. Once feral cats are older than four months old, they are considered adults. The kittens found are neutered and socialized for adoptions. They also work with nearby shelters to rescue adult cats and retrain them to become working cats. Working cats are feral kittens that cannot be adopted but find homes in wineries and barns to control rodent populations.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, Kitty Bungalow cannot house healthy kittens in their facilities. So, they have turned to their volunteers to help them trap, neuter, and return adult cats to their areas. But also, to foster young kittens for adoption.

Tim Frangos, a senior at the University of Southern California, has stepped up to lend Kitty Bungalow a helping hand. He was fostering two siblings, Tammy and Toby, who have neurological brain conditions that affect their motor skills.

“They wobble around the room and they can’t really walk that well, but they are still so eager to please and eager to be loved,” said Frangos in a phone interview.

Tammy and Toby were adopted last week, and are loving their new home.

As of this November, Kitty Bungalow has employed 252 working cats, and 314 kittens have been adopted. This is a 30 percent increase from the year before.

Although this pandemic has upended their operations, executive director Melanie Wagner feels excited for the future.

“One of the benefits that might even be a long-term benefit is that people are feeling more and more comfortable getting to know cats virtually,” said Wagner. “We’ve made some adjustments to our policies where we do allow people to foster to adopt, which wasn’t necessarily something we had to do before. So, it gives people the opportunity to say, ‘Wow, I think I really love this cat.”

Although shelter closures, and now budget cuts make organizations like Kitty Bungalow fearful for the future, they are hoping more people like Frangos to step up and help.

Frangos has felt extremely lucky to be able to give back during these hard times.

“I think fostering has given me a little bit of hope in our world, I think witnessing the craziness of our time with the virus, it seems like our whole world is just falling apart, and we forget that there’s good parts of it too,” said Frangos.

He is part of a new wave of people fostering animals during this quarantine. However, the big question is, what will happen when the pandemic is over?