Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Litter Did You Know has moved!

The San Francisco SPCA's Litter Did You Know Blog has been moved to a new place on the web:

Click here to go to the redesigned blog.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Playing the Name Game Never Gets Dull

The cutest takeover mankind has ever witnessed has begun and....there is no end in sight.

It seems the most common question one might ask during a cat adoption is: "Who names the cats?". After all, there must be some mad genius writer behind the scenes whose sole purpose is to come up with unique and creative names for every cat and kitten that enters the SF/SPCA, right? Well, almost. Some of the cats come in with names from previous homes while others simply have names invented or reinvented by our intake staff. Usually it's the first person to see the cat and enter the information in a computer.

You can imagine how difficult it can be to find individual titles for over 4,000 cats a year without repeating or confusing two that already exist. It truly boggles the mind, but the challenge is a fun one, when it gets down to it.

 In fact, for some of us, it becomes an obsession.

Picture yourself at home, reading a book or watching your favorite tv show. Suddenly... POP... a series of names, themes and categories enters your thought process. The next thing you know, you are writing down names on a scratch pad, searching the Internet or filling your mental Rolodex.

The wipe board outside the Non-contagious Kitten Room
There are methods to our madness. Litters of kittens are named with themes that keep them together. An example would be : Corona, Pacifico and Modelo. Maybe someone was at a BBQ and they thought, " Hmm, I think I'll name some kittens after my favorite beers!" Sometimes we choose to name them by First Initial, like Reggie, Ronald and Ralphie. Moms with kittens get named with themes that tie the kittens to the mom. For instance: A mom named Petrolina will have kittens named Exxon, Texaco, Mobil, Shell & Chevron. Not the most conventional labels but hey....we have SO MANY kittens it gets creatively competitive.

"BONES" the cat whose face looks like a skull

Then, there's the obvious technique of naming a cat based on physical features that stand out. A cat with an amputated tail will be named "Nubbin". An older more dignified mom cat that has had one too many litters is called "Grandma". A cat that was born with some toes missing will be "Little Foot". The sweet tabby with glowing orange eyes is dubbed 'XRAY Specks". The possibilities are endless folks.


We take our naming seriously. Sometimes we take it so seriously that we get offended when someone doesn't like our choices and changes the name of an overweight cat from Tsunami  to Tugboat. Or, we secretly feel proud when we hear the names we created mentioned around the shelter, on the news or from an admiring would be-adopter. Imagine just how far a name can travel.

There are over 260 individual and amazing cats in our shelter. Each with a name that calls to you. Please help put the SF/SPCA this summer and put a name to a face. The name game has no losers, only winners.

Don't forget about our upcoming adopt-a-thon next weekend!!!!

Daniel Quagliozzi
SF/SPCA Feline Care Coordinator

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Adoption is Patriotic! We Want YOU!!!

I think this picture sums up the way most of us feel when the Kitten Season is upon us. If anything, it keeps us laughing and in generally good spirits, despite what seems to be an onslaught of  fuzzy cuteness. Don't forget, no matter how adorable kittens are, 100 + that need to be fed, medically treated and cleaned up after will take their toll on the people that care for them each and everyday.

This is what we signed up for the minute we all stepped into the SF/SPCA and decided that this was where we wanted to devote our lives. However, a little known syndrome called "Compassion Fatigue" can claim many victims this time of year. We are all so very tired, yet...we don't stop. We can't stop. Animal sheltering leaves very little room for arbitrary decision making and it doesn't stop just because you went home for the day. You live, breathe and dream cats 24/7.

Adoptions are what allow shelters to save lives. Without loving homes, cats, kittens, dogs and puppies languish in some shelters and in the very worst of scenarios, are euthanized as a result of the behavior and medical changes that evolve. Our commitment to finding homes for the hard cases sometimes far exceeds our own comfort level.  We depend on the Bay Area Community to alleviate the traffic much like a bottle neck on a major highway.

The total population of cats in our shelter is reaching a crisis level. Our current total number ranges from 243 to 260 cats depending on whats offered from SF Animal Control and the unfortunate circumstances of our fragile economy, often resulting in cats being returned into a system that is already operating at full capacity. As you can imagine, we keep close tabs on our cat population because not only do we want to keep them healthy and happy but we also need to maintain a work force that is physically able to care for them without spreading themselves too thin. This my friends.... is the hardest equation we have to solve each day. How much is too much? 

With that being said, consider this a plea for help. We need our communities help more than ever before. If you have room in your heart and home for a cat or kitten, please come to the SF/SPCA and help our cause. Tell a friend. Tell an enemy. We need you this summer and perhaps the most patriotic move one can make is adopting a Domestic Mixed American cat. Yes, this includes exotic breeds too!

We've dropped our fees and extended our low adoption rates through the summer. The choices are limitless and the love will last a lifetime. What's your excuse?

Daniel Quagliozzi
Feline Care Coordinator

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....