Fire and Water (Northern California and Puerto Rico)

We at CatSynth are staying safely ensconced at HQ as the rather poor smoke-filled air reaches our doorstep. Fortunately, we are safe and have everything, which no longer true for so many to our north in Sonoma and Napa. This is still an on-going situation which we are following on social media and through local sources like SFGate. It is just devasting to see scenes and places I recognize going up in flames.

As things are still in the emergency and evacuation phase, the focus is on shelter, and of course fighting the fire.

Bring Crucial Supplies & Volunteer at Shelters

To accommodate the estimated 20,000 evacuees, a number of local landmarks have opened their doors to the growing influx of escapees. Below is a list of shelters, organizations, schools, and businesses we’ve found that are currently operating as safe spaces; they need able-and-willing volunteers and donations of essential supplies.

Veterans Memorial Building and Hall, 1351 Maple Ave. (Santa Rosa), sonomacountry.ca.gov
Petaluma Community Center, 320 N. McDowell Blvd. (Petaluma), cityofpetaluma.net
Sonoma County Fairgrounds (open for large- and medium-sized livestock and farm animals), access via Gate 7 on Aston Ave. (Sonoma), sonomacountyfiar.com
Ramekins Culinary School and Inn, 450 W. Spain St. (Sonoma), remekins.com
Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds (open to accommodate small livestock and other farm animals, access via Gate 4 on 175 Fairgrounds Dr (Petaluma), sonoma-maringfair.org
Crosswalk Church (currently at-capacity and in need of aid), 2590 1st St. (Napa), crosswalknapa.org
Napa Valley College Gym, 2277 Napa Vallejo Hwy. (Napa), napavalley.edu

Here are some resources for those needing to evacuate with pets. Please share with your friends in the area:

Multiple shelters are open to assist pet owners. They are:
Napa County Animal Shelter at 942 Hartle Ct, Napa
Santa Rosa Fairgrounds at 1350 Bennett Valley Road. Access the Fairgrounds via Gate 7 on Aston Ave
Cloverdale Citrus Fair at 1 Citrus Fair Drive, Cloverdale
Californians: If anyone has a horse trailer, Chalk Hill Ranch near Healdsburg needs emergency help. They have 54 horses in dire need of transportation off the ranch. 13426 Chalk Hill Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448 707-433-1804

To help animals and their humans, Donate to the Humane Societies and SPCA

Natural disasters of this magnitude affect more than human lives. Donate your time—and extra bags of dog and cat food—to the North Bay branches of the Humane Society and SPCA as they go about the tough work of accommodating new shelter animals.

Humane Society of Sonoma County, 5345 CA-12. (Santa Rosa), sonomahumane.org
Humane Society of Napa County, 3265 California Blvd. (Napa), napahumane.org
Yuba-Sutter SPCA, 745 Sutter St. (Yuba), yubasutterspca.org

Animal shelters in the region are evacuating some of their residents to places south here in SF and in Oakland. In some cases, it may the shelter is in danger. In others, they are making space for animals lost or otherwise affected by the fires. Our friends at the SF SPCA and Cat Town Oakland are helping out.

Many wineries and other institutions are affected. We haven’t heard updates from some our favorite places around St Helena and Calistoga. We did hear that the di Rosa Art Center galleries and staff are all safe. Friends have reported in safe as well. We will continue to follow things – it is so hard to watch but also so hard to look.


Thousands of miles to the east and south, our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico are trying to recover. We have fire; they have water. The recovery phase sometimes falls off the outside radar as new disasters happen – though in a dark twist the toxic politics will ensure that it does stay in our consciousness longer. It was pretty outrageous to see the lack of response, then the embarrassingly poor response, and cheap shots and criticisms of the people suffering through this disaster and trying to help them. But we persevere…

In general, organizations helping humans, pets, and preserving culture need cash more than stuff (and it’s also best to allow it to go to general funds). For disaster relief, friends have recommended Oxfam America. As in our local conflagration, and after the hurricanes in Texas and Florida, organizations are helping rescue and evacuate pets and other animals. From a recent story in The Atlantic:

The Humane Society of the United States, anticipating a deluge of lost and abandoned pets after the recent natural disaster, began coordinating flights of animals already in Texas shelters to other parts of the country. Eventually, they relocated hundreds of adoptable cats and dogs in the days before and after the storm. The same happened with Irma in Florida and the Virgin Islands. The same is happening after Maria in Puerto Rico.

HSUS is collecting and distributing donations for animal and human relief work. Many local organizations are helping as well. You can find out more from The Humane Society of Puerto Rico’s Facebook Page on current status and needs.

You can see feline evacuees from Puerto Rico to Safe Haven for Cats in North Carolina in this video, via this article.

San Francisco SPCA Holiday Windows

One of our favorite holiday traditions in San Francisco continues to be the holiday windows at Macy’s flagship store on Union Square featuring adoptable pets from the SF SPCA. It’s hard not to melt a bit looking at the pets in the windows, located at the corner of Stockton and O’Farrell, waiting for their new homes.

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Of course, the cats were mostly doing what cats do best.

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I believe this trio are litter mates.

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All of the animals are available for adoption, and one can schedule visit time to meet them just as one would at the main SF SPCA shelter. At the time I visited, there were only kittens. I do hope to see more adult cats, who often have a tougher time getting adopted. When I turned back to photograph on adorable black kitten, her space had a sign saying she was taking a break to visit with a potential family. I certainly hope it worked out for her.

You can find out more about the SF SPCA / Macy’s Holiday Windows at this site, including information on visiting and donating. I’m sure I’ll be back at least once before it closes on January 3.

SF SPCA Holiday Windows

Once again, the San Francisco SPCA has partnered with Macy’s flagship store in Union Square to feature adoptable pets. I have visited a few times during my walks around downtown SF this holiday season, and on Saturday say these playful kittens and many others.

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Besides providing an adorable respite from the usual holiday commercial overload, these windows serve to highlight the plight of adoptable pets in our communities that need homes. Indeed, all these pets are available for adoption and many do fine loving homes from people who see them in the windows. I am confident this vivacious youngster will find a home soon.

There are also adult cats in the windows for adoption, and I hope the find homes as well. Adult cats from previous homes can make great companions, especially for quieter households. (Luna was a previously homed adolescent when I adopted her.)

I did love seeing these two intertwined, especially because one looked like a very young Luna. Perhaps they will be adopted together?

It’s always fun to come see the cats in the windows and help support the cause of caring for homeless pets. If you do visit before it closes on January 4, please make a small onsite donation. You call find out more about the holiday windows program and how to support all the SF SPCA does for animals in our community via their website.

San Francisco SPCA Holiday Windows, 2013

One of our favorite holiday traditions here in San Francisco is the window display at Macy’s flagship Union Square store featuring adoptable pets from the San Francisco SPCA.

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There were quite a few kittens on display, some in windows that featured a theme of holidays in the city. Some really knew how to ham it up for the visitors, like this cutie:

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They always get a good response from the public including numerous adoptions, which is of course what this event is all about. And we at CatSynth love seeing cats finding new homes.

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You can find out more about the program at the SF SPCA’s website, including visiting hours and how to donate to help the city’s homeless pets. And if you live here or you’re visiting SF this holiday season, go downtown and see the cats in person!

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Wordless Wednesday: Helping Feral Cats for 20 Years

SF SPCA

Weekend Cat Blogging: SF SPCA Macy’s Holiday Windows

Every year, the San Francisco SPCA teams up with Macy’s to produce Holiday Windows featuring adoptable pets at the flagship store in downtown San Francisco. It’s a great holiday tradition here, and an opportunity to find new homes for pets over the holidays.

Over the past seven years, the Holiday Windows have helped the SF SPCA raise nearly $400,000 and find homes for over 2,300 animals. Thank you to our friends at Macy’s for their commitment to helping us find loving homes for San Francisco’s cats and dogs.

There were mostly kittens and adolescent cats on display when I visited the windows earlier today. I was particularly taken with this pair of black-furred brothers.

There is always a theme to the windows, and this year it appeared to be gift boxes, as if these kittens were to both be a gift and to receive a gift.

But the windows also often feature a city vibe as well.

To find out more about SF SPCA Macy’s Holiday Windows, follow this link. And if you happen to be in the San Francisco area this holiday season, I recommend stopping by Union Square to see the pets.


Weekend Cat Blogging #394 is hosted by pam and sidewalk shoes.

The Carnival of the Cats will be hosted this Sunday by Nikita and Elvira at Meowsings of an Opinionated Pussycat.

And the Friday Ark is at the modulator.

Weekend Cat Blogging: SF SPCA Holiday Windows 2011

Each year, the San Francisco SPCA teams up with Macy’s in San Francisco to feature adoptable pets in the holiday window displays at their main store in Union Square.  And we at CatSynth present some of the cats that are featured in the windows and available for adoption.

The windows featured a theme this year that appeared to me as a series of gears and old machinery.  It turns out that the theme is in fact “Make a Wish” and the machinery represents a “wish factory”.  Clearly the wishes here are for loving homes for all the adoptable animals.

The program is always popular with visitors to busy Union Square.  And it has been quite successful, placing many animals in homes and raising funds for the San Francisco SPCA’s many other programs.

The holiday windows continue through January 1, with different animals rotating through each day.  If you are in San Francisco this holiday season, I encourage you to check it out.  Those who aren’t going to be in the area can still enjoy the displays via the live video feeds.

You can find out more about Macy’s SF SPCA Holiday Windows at this website, including hours, volunteer opportunities, and donation information.


Weekend Cat Blogging #341 is hosted by Billy Sweetfeets Gingersnap.

The Carnival of the Cats will be hosted this Sunday by the always hard-working Nikita and Elivra at Meowsings of an Opinionated Pussycat.

And the Friday Ark is at the modulator.

Animal welfare and wild cats for “Mo’ Cats Day”

Back in 2009, some individual or group declared that 09/09/09 would be “No Cats Day”, a day on which there would be “no cats on the internet.” It is true that there is a preponderance of cat-related material on the internet, some of it fun and endearing, some quite informative, and some downright insipid. But the idea of banning cats from the internet for one day is preposterous, and quite mean. So in defiance, many cat-related blogs declared “Mo’ Cats Day” on 09/09/09, and on every September 9 since then.

We have not participated in the past, but this year we are doing so with a brief post highlighting the work of organizations that promote the welfare of domestic and wild cats. The Humane Society of the United States is one such organization – one of their recent monthly magazines achieved coffee-table-quality and is shown in the above photo at CatSynth HQ.

Locally, we have the San Francisco SPCA, which has adoption and animal-welfare advocacy programs among their many functions. They are behind those holiday windows at Macy’s Union Square that feature adoptable cats.

Both the SPCA and our local Animal Services operate no-kill shelters, and indeed we became the first “no-kill city” in the United States.

Luna was adopted back in 2005 from the local shelter in Santa Cruz, and in gratitude we continue to support Friends of Santa Cruz County Animals.

We are also thinking about wild cats on this day and the organizations that work towards their welfare and conservation. The International Society For Endangered Cats (ISEC) Canada is dedicate to the conservation of small wild cats, who often don’t get the attention of their famous big-cat counterparts. The have lots of information and are involved in several programs around the world.

Closer to home the Felidae Conservation Fund “aims to advance the conservation of wild cats and their habitats planetwide through a combination of groundbreaking research, compelling education and cutting-edge technology.” They are involved in several research studies, some of them quite local to northern California, as well as conservation efforts.

Please visit our previous wild cats posts for more information and links to other organizations.