We all know that drag saves lives and today is International Drag Day so we are celebrating the power of drag. We learned of a Cat Shelter that is saving cat’s lives one drag queen at a time. Carson Shelter Cats for Adoption helps stray cats and cats without homes find a new home, but some don’t have names so the social media manager for the shelter, Ashley now names them after RuPaul’s Drag Race queens.
I chatted with Ashley to find out what led her to name the kittens after drag race stars. Check out the interview below.
Javay Frye: How did you get involved with the cat shelter?
Ashley Long: Last summer I was seeing a lot of heartbreaking posts in my Facebook feed about shelter cats who desperately needed rescue before their time was up. When people don’t spay and neuter their cats, it creates a huge, annual wave of homeless kittens that shelters struggle to accommodate on top of the usual strays and owner surrenders. Kittens too young to eat on their own may be put down immediately, and older cats may be euthanized to make space. This is just the sad reality of how shelters work, because they have limited resources. I wanted to be part of the solution but I knew this was not a simple matter of donating money. I messaged one of the Facebook pages that was posting these sad stories and asked what a person could do to help. The admin of that page, Baldwin Park Shelter Cats for Adoption, responded asking me to create a social media presence for the cats at Carson shelter, in Gardena, CA, because it is a small, lesser known shelter in L.A. and those cats had nobody putting them in front of the public eye. Getting adoptable pets seen is step number one toward getting them saved. A year later, I still admin the page and post a cat photo every evening in hopes the right person will see it and go adopt! We haven’t missed a day. The woman who got me involved, Lisa, co-admins and helps me answer our followers’ questions. We have a shelter volunteer who provides us with our wonderful photographs so that we don’t always have to use the “mug shots” from the website.
JF: What made you decide to name the cats and why Drag Queen names?
AL: Animals who come in as strays have no names, and I always thought it was sad to see a friendly, beautiful cat being referred to as a number. Everyone deserves a name –a name means you are loved! The right name can evoke a personality and really engage the reader’s interest, which is so important when you’re trying to get people to foster for a rescue or adopt. The Drag Race queens came to mind because I’m a big fan of the show. When I needed a group of exciting, fabulous names to pull from, I consulted a master list of all contestants and their real names (if an unnamed kitty is male, I might use a contestant’s boy name, like Roy or Brian). Sometimes I look at the cat and see who it reminds me of, other times I just choose a really fun name. There are actually a lot of Drag Race fans in the cat rescue community, and people who get the references are more likely to share the post. Being able to hashtag the posts with the queens’ names also increases visibility on Facebook and Instagram. All these factors increase the chances of adoption or rescue for a cat who would otherwise go unseen. I keep hoping someone will see a cat named after their favorite contestant and then go down to the shelter after it, or that maybe even one of the L.A. area queens will become the adopter of their own mini-me!
JF: Has naming the cats after drag race stars helped in adoptions in any way?
AL: I do think our following has been more engaged since I started doing this, probably because the charming names are attention grabbing. Names like Manila, Aquaria, Trinity, and Adore are something new and different from the usual pet names like “Kitty” and “Spot”. The one time I named a cat Ru there were 3 women on the thread clamoring to adopt and one of them actually did go get him! Our Facebook page received a very nice photo of Ru safe in his new home. Seeing those photos and knowing a once hopeless cat is safe makes all this work worth while.
JF: Any statistics or numbers about how many cats need to be adopted this summer?
AL: In the month of June alone, L.A. city shelters had 2,589 adoptable cats come through their doors. Now think about that number applied across a whole state. And then across the country! There’s a really sad pet overpopulation problem that caring people need to take an active role in curbing.
Be a part of the solution by educating others on the importance of spay and neuter (it is actually required by law in L.A. county!). One unaltered female cat can create dozens of kittens in a year in a warm climate like ours, and those unplanned kittens often end up on the streets or turned in to shelters. One can also help by fostering for a shelter or rescue. Fostering means letting a rescued cat stay with you temporarily until an adopter can be found. It is very rewarding, and can literally save a cat on the last day it had to live. I’ve fostered several times and it is the best feeling to see an animal you saved get adopted into a great home where it can grow old and be loved.
The focus of our Carson shelter social media is to find fosters and adopters for these wonderful animals who are in dire need right this summer. Right now the ASPCA is providing a grant to all L.A. area shelters that covers adoption fees on cats 4 months and older, so there’s never been a better time to get out there and adopt! L.A. residents can check out the city shelters (http://www.laanimalservices.com/) and the county shelters (http://animalcare.lacounty.gov/)
Share posts when you see them, donate, foster, adopt –get out there and save some #kittygirls
Check out some of the kittens that have been named after a queen and consider adopting one yourself! You can see the cats available for adoption every night via their social media!