By Janet McAfee

On February 18, 2023, an injured tabby kitten struggled in a Coachella Valley street but could barely move due to her pain.  That Saturday morning Walter Hunter was grocery shopping on Avenue 52 in Coachella when he saw something unusual on the street and stopped his truck.  The ardent animal lover discovered a listless kitten bleeding from her foot.  She also had an eye injury.  Noting the danger from the approaching traffic, he scooped her up and put her in his car.  Walter discovered Loving All Animals was nearby after some quick research on his phone.

The shelter had just opened for the morning when Walter arrived.  Loving All Animals does not have a veterinarian on site and most vet clinics were closed on weekends.  VCA on Jefferson Street, the only local 24-hour vet clinic, had a wait time of many hours.

The LAA staff contacted Samantha Rhoades, an amazing local cat rescuer. Samantha previously operated a massive TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return) program in the Coachella Valley for Best Friends.  Best Friends, the nation’s largest animal sanctuary, targeted the Coachella Valley due to its overwhelming number of stray community cats.  Samantha independently carried on the efforts to help curb the cat overpopulation program when the grant for the program ended.


As luck would have it, Samantha was at the Palm Springs Animal Shelter assisting at a TNR clinic.  She and her colleague Jana Hayes, a PSAS staff member, arranged for the kitten to receive immediate medical care from their vet. Walter abandoned his plans for the day and rushed the kitten to Palm Springs.  Crissy was treated for an upper respiratory infection, an injured paw, and an eye infection.  Jana arranged a later appointment to spay, microchip, vaccinate, and again treat her eye.  In another coincidence, Loving All Animals was the sponsor of the TNR clinic.  This excellent medical care was provided at no cost.

Loving All Animals named her Crissy, and Walter opened his heart and home to foster and provide the care she needed to recover.  The kitten thrived in his home.  I received photos of Crissy playing happily and cuddling with Walter’s dogs.  Crissy worked her magic, and Walter became another “foster failure” when he adopted her on March 18.  He explains, “The facts that the timing fell into place so well, I nursed her back to health, and she has one partially missing eye partially all meant that I was meant to keep Crissy forever.”

There was a miracle for Crissy, but thousands of other Coachella Valley homeless kittens and cats suffer injuries, disease, and starvation.  Residents frequently call Loving All Animals to complain about groups of cats roaming in fields and in their backyards.

Ann Woods is the director of the region’s largest cat sanctuary located in Desert Hot Springs, Kittyland Cat and Kitten Rescue.  Ann provides us expert insight into the issue involved with cats.  “There will be an even more homeless kittens this year.  During the pandemic, spaying and neutering were on hold most places, and now those kittens are having kittens.  Rescue organizations have trouble getting spay and neuter services at a reasonable cost.  Animal Action League is a low-cost program but they are backlogged and now only available to private owners.  Not as many cats are being relinquished like the large number of dogs being returned by people returning to work.  Fortunately, our adoption center in the Palm Springs PetSmart is having lots of adoptions.”

Walter is an attorney and a local high school teacher.  He shared Crissy’s story with the school staff and his students.  Crissy is pictured here cuddling with one of her canine siblings.  Humane Education in our schools is a valuable program that helps us recruit young people to join our army of “rescue warriors”.  Crissy will continue to work miracles to help educate the students and our readers about caring for animals.  Contact one of the organizations that helped Crissy to find out how you can help or donate.  WORKING TOGETHER WE CAN SAVE MORE!