Arlington, VA

This weekend, drag meets kittens for a sold-out show of “extravagance and cuteness” at the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse.

All of the tickets have sold out for the fundraiser this Sunday, October 6, at 7 p.m at the Arlington Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike). During the performance, drag queens will lead a bingo game with the audience to raise money for animal welfare causes — as well as bring some special furry guests.

“The ladies of the Imperial Court will be calling bingo with their signature flair and we will have kittens from the Animal Welfare League of Arlington’s renowned Kitten College available for adoption and adoration,” the event’s webpage reads.

The Imperial Court of Washington D.C. is part of a long-time LGBT+ charity which raises funds through drag events and performances.

Proceeds from this Sunday’s event will go to “critical needs” at AWLA, per an email from the organization which operates a shelter as well as the county’s busy animal control.

The rest of the funds raised will be donated to the  nonprofit, Caring Hand Animal Support and Education, which is running a spay and neuter project in the Dominican Republic later this year.

The sold-out show comes as local drag queens are increasingly stepping onto new stages in Arlington after years of performing mostly in gay bars.

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After searching around a shed and checking under all the cars in the apartment parking lot, Arlington Animal Control Chief Jennifer Toussaint had returned to her van to think. Then a woman walked up to the window, mouthing a question and pointing behind us: “Kittens?”

Sure enough, after Toussaint followed her to the far side of the lot in Arlington’s Forest Glen neighborhood, she spotted one, tiny white paw disappearing up into the engine block of a dark green sedan. A tipster who called earlier that morning about kittens was right.

The head of the county’s animal control office used cans of tuna and YouTube videos of kittens crying to lure two little tabbies and one inky black feline out from under the car. While she did, the car’s owner came out of the building and sat on her walker next to us.

Angela Davis said her car had been damaged in a crash and hadn’t moved for weeks.

“The kittens were probably born there,” said Toussaint.

Davis nodded, saying she had spotted movement underneath it a week ago. “I said, ‘My goodness, there’s something moving!'”

But after an hour of all the tricks that Toussaint knew — like knocking her belt on the engine to scare them out and holding one of the siblings near the hiding space — one kitten stubbornly remained.

“I have to go, my cases are starting to back up,” she sighed, and noted in her case management system she’d be back.

It was one of about a dozen calls for service that Toussaint received during the several hours ARLnow spent shadowing Arlington Animal Control last week. During that time, the calls she received included a request to surrender a dog, remove a dead squirrel, investigate a dog-selling scam, and check on abandoned dogs in an apartment, among others.

Toussaint said animal control responded to about 3,500 cases last year, not including some of the smaller requests staff can solve over the phone.

The county’s animal control office is located in the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) building at 2650 S. Arlington Mill Drive. It employs six staffers compared to the shelter’s 40.

At the end of the shift, Toussaint returned to her blue and white office where her Boston Terrier rescue Reagan sleeps in the corner and Toussaint can be found dual-wielding the phone and keyboard to handle multiple requests for service. She said this represented a medium-busy day.

“You’ve never going to have a day when you’re out of calls to run,” she joked.

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If you like kittens and yoga, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington has an event for you.

The shelter is hosting a yoga event this week for participants to get some exercise — and some feline playtime. Together with Arlington-based vinyasa yoga instructor Beth A. Wolfe, the shelter will host two yoga sessions this Thursday, August 15, where participants can do yoga while kittens romp around them.

“We will enjoy a casual yoga practice at the shelter while kittens roam among us,” organizers wrote on the event’s webpage. “There will be plenty of time allotted for kitten snuggling and photos.”

The event is for people ages 10 and up, and is designed to help find homes for the kittens, which will all be adoptable. Classes will be held at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. this Thursday at the shelter’s offices on 2650 S. Arlington Mill Drive.

Tickets sell for $35 each. Attendees are asked to bring their own yoga mat.

Wolfe is also leading the Arlington County Fair’s goat yoga sessions this week.

Image via Flickr/Quinn Dombrowski

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The Animal Welfare League of Arlington announced it is opening the first neonatal kitten nursery in the D.C. area.

The “Kitten Academy” will help foster hundreds of kittens that are less than three weeks old, the age when a kitten is the most vulnerable. The academy will open thanks to a donation of $25,000 from Falls Church residents Ted and Willa Lutz.

According to AWLA, kittens in shelters have to overcome exposure to disease and the lack of a nursing mother before reaching an age when they can be adopted. As a result, many shelters are forced to euthanize the kittens.

Shelters can also struggle to accommodate all the neonatal kittens that arrive, especially during “Kitten Season” when many cats give birth. The season typically lasts from spring until fall, and reaches its peak in late spring.

AWLA will hold a Kitten Care Workshop on Wednesday, June 14 to train those interested in taking care of the kittens. The workshop will teach life-saving techniques and how to properly bottle feed them.

Photo via Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

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A kitten named Speedo is getting the physical therapy he needs.

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is treating a two-month-old domestic shorthair known as a “swimmer” cat who walks by making swimming-like motions with his front paws.

Born with rear legs that splay outward, Speedo was dropped off at the AWLA at 2650 S. Arlington Mill Dr. by an owner who wasn’t in the position to deal with his medical issues, Chief Operating Officer Susan Sherman said.

The shelter found a foster home for the kitten, who gets physical therapy treatments every day. Rather than opting for surgery on his legs, Speedo gets massages and may even receive acupuncture treatments.

“The massage is meant to train the muscles and ligaments,” Sherman said. “The acupuncture would stimulate nerves.

“We do not believe he’s in any pain,” she added.

AWLA veterinarians made a special “alley” for Speedo to walk through with his hind legs bound, encouraging him to walk correctly.

To help pets like Speedo, AWLA is asking for donations to their Woody and Mickey Healthy Pet Fund, which helps special needs pets by paying for”above and beyond” services like orthopedic surgery, blood tests and dental surgery.

Despite his ongoing treatments, Speedo is a sweetheart, Sherman said.

“He is adorable. He’s very sweet and amazingly friendly.”

AWLA expects the kitten will need a permanent home later this year.

“We’re going to see how much he’s able to progress, and as soon as we think he’s going to be able to live a healthy, happy life, he’ll be up for adoption,” she said.

AWLA made this video of Speedo walking through his “alley”: 

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Two kittens rescued by the Animal Welfare League of Arlington have become Internet sensations thanks to a viral video (above), filmed and posted by their foster parents.

The video shows the kittens nodding their heads in a synchronized “dance,” seemingly along with the beat of the hit song “Turn Down for What,” by DJ Snake and Lil Jon.

Daisy and Tulip are eight weeks old and are still available for adoption, according to AWLA Executive Director Neil Trent. The video, posted on May 29, has already accumulated more than 3 million views, but Trent said despite people calling with interest about the two kittens, the shelter has yet to receive any formal adoption applications.

Daisy (right) and Tulip (photo courtesy AWLA)Daisy and Tulip, sisters found abandoned when they were less than a week old and their eyes were still closed, are scheduled for surgery to get spayed on Thursday, but Trent said anyone can come in and visit this afternoon, Wednesday or after the surgery on Friday to see the two felines.

“We haven’t had anything that’s gotten this kind of reception,” Trent told ARLnow.com. “Occasionally we’ll post something on YouTube of a cat or a kitten. I think it may be stimulated a bit because the writer of the song is a rap guy named Lil Jon and he Facebooked about the video. Maybe that’s what helped it go out into the ether.”

Daisy, the tortoiseshell-colored kitten, and Tulip are two of about 25-30 kittens currently residing in AWLA’s new feline shelter, along with 45-50 cats, Trent said. There are also about 50 kittens in foster families, where they live until they’re about eight weeks old and are ready to be spayed.

Photo courtesy AWLA

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Cat and kittens (photo via AWLA Facebook page)It’s that time of year again — kitten season.  The Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) needs people willing to offer foster care for the young animals.

Because of the possibility the vulnerable animals may contract an illness, AWLA cannot keep kittens under the age of eight weeks in its shelter. Young kittens also cannot regulate their own body heat, eat on their own or go to the bathroom on their own. They must be fed every three to four hours and kept warm. AWLA does not have overnight staff, so it is seeking volunteers who can care for the animals around the clock until they are old enough to be adopted.

AWLA Foster Care Coordinator Sara Emery explained that cats can only go into heat a few times each year and only during warm weather, so March usually brings a spike in births. Kittens typically continue being born and brought to the shelter through November, depending on the weather. Twelve kittens have arrived at the shelter in the last week alone and Emery expects around 60 more throughout the summer.

Anyone can fill out an application to foster a kitten. AWLA staff will then interview candidates and examine the home environment to find a good animal-human fit. There is no cost to the person fostering a kitten; all supplies (including litter boxes and toys) are provided and will be replenished as necessary. The average time commitment is about three to four weeks, but will not be longer than eight weeks.

Those who provide foster care will have the opportunity to adopt the kitten at the end of its stay, or suggest someone who may be able to provide a permanent home.

Anyone interested in becoming a part of the kitten foster program should contact Sara Emery at 703-931-9241, extension 245, or by emailing [email protected]

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