Solving an Unseen Problem

In 2009, shortly after my husband, Steven, and I started volunteering at the Oakland shelter, we realized that a mom with kittens had taken up residence in our backyard. Knowing very little about the world of cat rescue then, we brought the kittens to the shelter when they were about 10 weeks old. We assumed they would quickly get socialized and adopted, but a couple of weeks later, a fellow volunteer let me know that one of the kittens couldn’t be touched and was going to be euthanized.

Brave little Felt helped Orbea learn to trust us.

Brave little Felt helped Orbea learn to trust us.

I still remember the panicked call I made to Steven when we agreed we had to bring the kittens home. We named them Felt and Orbea.

Orbea, before we earned her lifelong love.

Orbea, before we earned her lifelong love.

Where Felt wanted nothing more than to be held, I was as afraid of Orbea as she was of me. Thankfully, we found someone to teach us how to safely interact with her, and after many weeks, we slowly earned Orbea’s trust. Orbea and Felt became beloved members of our family, and taught me about a need in our community I didn’t even know existed.

I have since learned that kittens are biologically open to being socialized at 5-7 weeks old. Even if you’re not particularly skilled, you can socialize a 7-week-old kitten in hours. Socializing that same kitten just a few weeks later can take weeks, and once they get 3 or 4 months old, it can take months. For this reason, kittens as young as 10 weeks old are euthanized in significant numbers in shelters across the country. But because of my experience with Felt and Orbea, helping older kittens has been an integral part of Cat Town’s mission.

I am thrilled to say that, through our Forgotten Kitten Project, Cat Town now helps every older kitten who comes into the Oakland shelter. And, Cat Town’s work is now a national model for saving these kittens and showing others how to do the same. We are committed to giving these youngsters a chance no one else will — but can’t always step in as soon as we’d like.


Often, these forgotten kittens must wait more than a month for us to have the resources to take them from the shelter. Each day they spend terrified in a cage, it becomes more challenging to fulfill our promise to help them.

This summer, we want to get to those kittens sooner to help more kittens in need of our intervention. To do so, we have to expand our foster program. If we can get unsocialized kittens out of the shelter as soon as they arrive, it will be easier to earn their trust and get them adopted, and will change the trajectory of their entire lives by helping them become more confident and resilient.

With your support, we can get these kittens out of the shelter this summer. Please consider a donation today to help us support these overlooked youngsters!