- West Hollywood’s Community Cats Program came to the rescue at Anawalt Lumber. During the final week of October, an impromptu team of 10-plus humans came to the rescue of 15-plus community cats hiding out in little nooks and crannies in and around Anawalt Lumber in West Hollywood.
“Our mission is to encourage trap, neuter, return (known as TNR) of our 4-legged residents, stopping the multiplying of our community cats, and allowing them to live healthier lives” says Mary Jo Godges, who along with her wife Renee Sotile led the effort at Anawalt.
After the surgery male cats are less aggressive and stop fighting, and female cats stop reproducing every 3 to 4 months which is the #1 reason shelters and rescues are constantly overwhelmed. Fixing one cat equals preventing potentially thousands of unwanted kittens.
Godges and Sotile have long advocated the West Hollywood City Council and Officials to establish local services after a Calico cat appeared at their residence with her 5 kittens over 10 years ago.
It was a turning point when the City Council approved the “West Hollywood Community Cats Program” that assists in humanely controlling the number of homeless cats and kittens that live in the city.
The West Hollywood Community Cats Program established in May 2023, offers permits, traps, and FREE and LOCAL spay/neuter performed at the Amanda Foundation.
“This is a big deal” said Renee Sotile, “before the program, residents would have to dedicate hours picking up traps and traveling far to the limited animal hospitals equipped to fix stray cats which often discouraged follow-through. Our motivation is to make TNR accessible for our residents to easily help our vulnerable population of cats abandoned or born into the wild.”
Mission was accomplished at Anawalt Lumber, says the store manager, Basil Alexander, “Five months ago, there were only 2 or 3 cats here in the yard”, but by the time WeHo resident Andrew Harland notified Renee and Mj last week, they had grown to 10 and counting. “Our staff feeds them first thing in the morning and just before closing. They’ve become our family.”
It all started at 5:30AM last Tuesday morning. The day before, the team at Anawalt had gotten the memo: Do not feed the cats. By the following morning the cats were plenty hungry and readily walked into the humane traps set with food.
By Thursday, all the cats had been spayed or neutered, treated for fleas, fully vaccinated and ear tipped – the universal sign the cat is fixed. After they recovered from surgery, the adult cats were returned to their nook-and-cranny “homes” at Anawalt, much to the delight of employees, who had grown attached.
Renee noted that during the very early dark morning, before the sun rose, she watched longtime Anawalt employee Armando Moradel kneel down to the kittens and pray in Spanish, ending with “you’re off to a better life.” Wiping tears from his eyes he carried the final 2 kitten carriers to the awaiting car where 6 more lumberyard employees joined him to say goodbye to the babies “I love the white one,” one man said peeking in.
Before the trappings, Renee & Mj sought out advice from Luxe Paws on the kittens. Founder, Jacquie Navratil assured them the kittens were old enough to be separated from Mom. Welcome news given the bulldozers making their way closer and closer to the kittens hideaway. Some kittens from the previous litter had been killed at the active construction site, which is why resident involvement is so important.
TNR takes community involvement. Renee & Mj are gathering a list of Cat Crusaders willing to help, be it feeding, picking up traps at WeHo City Hall or driving cats to and from the Amanda Foundation to complete the TNR.
Jacquie Navratil — “I can’t think of a better way to donate my time than to ensure innocent animals have access to a simple spay or neuter. It offers the greatest impact on the cats and the community.”
Cats who were never rescued when they were tiny kittens & were never socialized with humans are fearful and mainly appear in the dark from sundown to sun up, wandering around, searching for food and shelter. They benefit the community by keeping the rodent population under control, without the need for toxic chemicals that put other animals & wildlife at risk.
“It’s fascinating to think that so many cats live among us,” says Chi-Hong Teng, WeHo resident whose TNR’d cat Sly lives contentedly in and around his home. “It feels so good to know that we can help them live safer and better lives. We’re all in this village called Earth together.”
The kittens are being fostered by GeeKitties Kitten Rescue and will be ready for adoption in the coming weeks. To adopt, email:
“Together we can ‘FIX’ this.”