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.


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:


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.


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!


The Presidio Pet Cemetery

Presidio Pet Cemetery sign with Hipstamatic

On this Memorial Day we pay a visit to Presidio Pet Cemetery. It is the final resting place of many beloved animal companions of the military families that lived in the San Francisco Presidio.

Presidio Pet Cemetery GI Pet

Most of the grave markers in the site date back to the 1950s when “the Presidio was home to over 2,000 military families.” It was surrounded by a white picket fence (which still exists today) and shaded by Monterey pines (which do not still exist). The site fell into disrepair in the 1970s and continued to deteriorate, but has been preserved. Today, it sits underneath the reconstructed Doyle Drive / Presidio Parkway that leads up to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Presidio Pet Cemetery and Doyle Drive

The construction on the Presidio Parkway is continuing around the site, indeed one large concrete beam sits inside the area of the cemetery. It is currently closed to visitors while the construction progresses, but it is quite visible from the nearby pathway. Indeed, it seems like it may in better shape now than it was preceding the construction, even if the vegetation is a bit overgrown in places.

Presidio Pet Cemetery GI Pet

Many of the markers are still clearly visible, and speak to the love and warmth these animals brought to their human companions on the base.   Some are very specific, some are more generic like “A G.I. Pet.  He did his time.”  but are touching nonetheless.  There are dogs, birds, hamsters, reptiles, and of course cats.

Presidio Pet cemetery cats

Presidio Pet Cemetery black cat

Thinking about the pets buried here and the bonds they had with their human companions helps one to feel empathy for both human and animal alike.  

I hope the site continues to be preserved and re-opens after the highway is completed.  I am sure I will be back here again.


on Thursday (not SFEMF)

I was hurrying home to San Francisco after 7PM yesterday to catch the first night of SFEMF. The radio programming was interrupted with an news update of a large fire in San Bruno, a town just south of San Francisco, near the airport. Specifically, it was near Skyline Blvd (CA 35) and not far from I-280, the highway on which I was traveling. Instantly, I thought it was wildfire out of control on a hillside. It is California, after all. The report then said that there were “several blocks in flames” and people hearing a large explosion and injured people being brought to local hospitals. This was something different. And I was on 280 heading north directly towards it. The smoke was visible above the ridge from miles away. As I approached the ramp from 280 to highway 35, it was closed off and covered with emergency vehicles. Beyond it was the column of smoke and the fire itself in the hills off to the left. The smell of the smoke and burning was intense, even inside the mostly enclosed car. A steady stream of cars jamming the streets down from the hills.

I know the area along Skyline Blvd moderately well. It is a high ridge between the Pacific Ocean and the suburban towns south of San Francisco, dotted with wooded hillsides, ocean views and surprisingly dense suburban developments, many of which had that iconic 1950s and 1960s look. I had explored the area when looking for a new home 2007 and I would sometimes escape into the hills along highways 35 and 1 as breaks when I worked in the area. I wondered if the houses and neighborhoods I had seen were among those now in flames.

After the concert, I came back online to get more information. I checked both our local newspaper online, where I found out it was caused by a huge gas line explosion, saw a map of the neighborhood affected, and saw horrific photos and videos. I simultaneously checked #sanbruno on Twitter. The location not a neighborhood I knew, but it could have been. 40 homes and 4 deaths officially. My thoughts are with those who lost their homes or loved ones.

And in the aftermath some attention turns to lost and missing pets as well. I read both about animals being rescued and about people who knew their pets were lost. In the immediate aftermath, a local PetCo accepted pets that were found during the emergency phase. The Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA have been involved, helping residents find lost pets, taking in animals that survived and were found. You can visit their site to find out more, and also how you can contribute. I did see one of their trucks when dropping off emergency donations on the way to work on Friday…once again driving on 280.

Finally, a few small bits of good news, including a man who able to go back and rescue his cat.