By Sophia Rowland
There is a taco truck I frequent in Los Angeles. Not too long ago I realized there was a colony of feral kitties living in the alleyway behind it. Not a lot of people realize, but the Humane Society/the city of Los Angeles does not go around taking care of that cat colony problem. There a thousands of cats living on the streets in LA alone. Not only that, but if animal services is called, baby or adult, the first thing that happens in many shelters is the cat is euthanized. If the colony is left alone, the cats breed like bunnies and a situation of 3 cats can easily turn into 30. And if really left alone that 30 can become 300. It is a very tough problem, and with over crowding in shelter it may seem like euthanizing is the only option… but it isn’t and it shouldn’t be. There are cat groups throughout LA that attempt to rescue from kill-shelters and also take cats off the street. If the cat is feral, you trap it, get it fixed and then re-release it. Honestly, it is the best and most humane method – and it works.
Back to my taco truck – the guys working there were risking getting in trouble with the health department because there were so many cats. Not only that, but a previous batch of kittens had been accidentally run over by cars pulling in and out to park for the truck. The guys were desperate. Mama had 4 kittens (about 5 weeks old) – they needed to be captured, rehabilitated, and adopted out. And mama needed to get spayed and released back to the colony as she is very feral. The guys at the taco truck had called shelters but they were getting no responses and no help. After seeing me hand over some taco meat to mama kitty, they asked me if I had any ideas. Fortunately, I had done some rescue/fostering as a teenager. I told them I would make some calls…
I called dozens of rescue groups / no-kill shelters. I asked if they knew anyone who could foster, or at least help me trap them. No one would help me or even call me back. Even groups I had volunteered for in the past! But right as I was feeling hopeless, I got a reply from the group Luxe Paws. With their help we were able to trap two of the kittens and mama. Later today we will hopefully get the other two kittens. We’ve been going every night, and it is amazing the kind of response we get from the guys at the taco truck. It is not in the safest area, but the guys working there have been so helpful. Even the guys on the side selling bootleg dvds are rooting us on. I’m talking big latino dudes, who you would not expect to give 2 cents about tiny kittens asking us what we are doing this and why while getting totally invested as the kittens inch towards the cage. “Did you get the kitten, blanca? Oh the you got that one – he is the prettiest!” I think I think witnessing that gives people hope. The support I personally received from Luxe Paws gave me hope.
Trap, fix, release is a great method. Contacting Luxe Paws (if you are in the Silver Lake area) or any cat group and learning how to set traps, foster kittens, etc. is such a wonderful use of your free time. It is also a great thing to do as a teenager – it certainly gave my hormonal, angsty self a sense of purpose back in the day… Maybe you don’t have the time to do trappings or the space to foster (I know I usually do not) – however there are ways to get involved. These organizations are totally non-profit and get hardly any help. The women who rescue and foster often pay all the vet bills themselves (the city does not help to control the feral cat population at all). Simply liking the group on FB and sharing some of their ‘adopt this kitten’ posts makes a huge impact. Your friend of a friend of a friend may see the picture and decide they want an adorable kitty! It is as simple as that. I know how getting involved can seem daunting but keep in mind that a little bit goes a very long way!
Also – please LIKE Luxe Paws on FB and contact them if you are interested in getting involved/ volunteering / adopting!