Animal Shelter Assistance Program (ASAP) held its first-ever free adoption event in August of last year. As a result of that single weekend, 76 cats and kittens are now curled up in the laps of 61 individual and family adopters. Due to the success of the event, next weekend, ASAP will once again be waiving the regular $75 adoption fee of adult cats to qualified adopters. Your only requirement is to offer a lifetime commitment of love and care to a wonderful shelter cat!

According to ASAP, cats and kittens are flooding into shelters and rescue groups, especially as “kitten season” swells the number of animals needing homes. Almost 100 adoptable adult cats are waiting for homes at ASAP and between 20-30 adoptable kittens, with almost 75 more kittens living in foster care. In addition to the cats and kittens arriving daily, ASAP is committed to helping out the overwhelmed North County shelters in Lompoc and Santa Maria by taking some of those cats and kittens as space permits. The Free Adoption Event makes it possible to get many of these cats into homes more quickly, improving their quality of life while reducing the strain on the county’s shelters.

ASAP is a nonprofit organization that cares for an average of 1,000 cats and kittens annually that are awaiting adoption at the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter. ASAP has been around for more than 20 years. Within 15 months of being established, it became the first organization within a municipal shelter to stop killing adoptable cats for the purpose of population control.

Each cat that comes into ASAP is given a full medical evaluation before being placed up for adoption. Included in the medical evaluation is spay or neuter surgery, flea treatment, vaccinations, deworming, testing for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus, and a full blood panel evaluation for cats over 10 years old.

If you aren’t able to adopt, another way to assist ASAP is to volunteer your time. For information on volunteering, visit:

For those who are critical of a free adoption event, you should know that all potential adopters must meet ASAP’s standard adoption criteria, including homeownership verification or landlord approval. A driver’s license or other valid identification is required for all adoptions. Potential adopters are encouraged to visit ASAP prior to the event to check out all the kitties available for adoption. Adopters can also expedite the adoption process by completing the homeowner verification and/or landlord approval process in advance.

Here is just one successful adoption story from ASAP’s Free Adoption Event last year:

When Judy lost the last of her longtime cat companions, she knew she would someday fill her house with feline love again. She just hadn’t planned to do it so soon. But when she heard that ASAP had so many homeless cats in need of a family, she was compelled to visit. Judy walked through ASAP’s door on the first day of the free adoption event and asked to see the two cats most in need of a home. Her only requirement was that they were able to live with other cats — one cat was simply not enough for her big heart.

Over the next couple of hours, Judy met many wonderful cats and was torn because there were three that really needed her love the most. Guadalupe and Yankee had both been at the shelter for over a year! Yankee liked to come out of his cage but always seemed to get picked on by other cats; it was as if he had an invisible “kick me” sign on his back. Quiet, unassuming Guadalupe just didn’t attract the attention of potential adopters. Then there was Curley Joe, the relative newcomer who had been at the shelter for nine months. Those months were particularly hard for him; he spent the entire time too frightened to come out of his cage.

All three were wonderfully sweet cats that were passed over time and time again in favor of kitties that were more outgoing or more striking in appearance. After visiting with the threesome for a long time, Judy vowed to come back the next day to adopt two of them. When she walked out the door, our hearts sank; we were afraid she would change her mind. But Judy was as good as her word! In fact, she was better than her word — when she returned, she announced that all three kitties would be coming home with her.

Being cat savvy, Judy was prepared for a difficult transition. After a year in a cage, freedom can be pretty intimidating for a shy cat. When we loaded Curley Joe into a cat carrier, the shelter echoed with his heartbreaking, frightened cries. He spent his first two nights at Judy’s home hiding. At 3 a.m. on the third night, Judy heard such a pathetic cry from him that she just couldn’t stand his pain any longer. She took a pillow and a blanket and curled up on the floor near his hiding spot. Imagine her surprise and joy when he crept out of hiding and curled up with her, seeking the comfort and solace of her warm presence. That marked a turning point for our Curley Joe — he claimed Judy as his very own person and that changed everything for him.

Now, more than two months later, all three cats have new names befitting their new lives. Judy tells us that Daisy (Guadalupe), Sugar (Yankee), and Cooper (Curley Joe) act like they have lived there forever. Despite her fears that their particularly difficult time at the shelter would leave them with emotional scars, she finds them to be remarkably well adjusted. Who could have predicted that Daisy would love being rubbed all over or that Sugar would be the laid back “old soul”?

Perhaps most surprising to those of us who knew them is that Cooper (our Curley Joe) has turned out to be quite a prankster. It is joyful to hear that after all that time in cages, Cooper and Sugar now take turns chasing each other up and down the hallway, while Daisy lies in wait to ambush them both. When we last spoke with Judy she told us, “This could not have worked out better for me to have found such happy, playful, sweet companions.” We are sure that Cooper, Daisy, and Sugar feel the same way.

If you are thinking of adopting a cat or kitten, stop by the facility at 5473 Overpass Road, off Patterson Avenue, during regular business hours (Mon.-Frid. 9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; closed Sun.). For more information and to see some of their adoptable cats, visit

ASAP’s Free Adoption Event is Saturday-Sunday, August 18-19, 10 a.m. –4 p.m. During the special event, there will be no adoption fee for adult cats; kittens will be $40 each or two for $75.


Support a great cause: CARE4Paws’ Dog Wash Fundraiser at Hendry’s Beach, Sunday, August 12. For more information, visit

Adoptable Pet of the Week


Tessie, a 6-year-old, long-haired tortoise-shell kitty with light green eyes and an impressive puffy mane, is awaiting adoption through the Animal Shelter Assistance Program. This fluffy girl is timid and shy at first but will reward you with enthusiastic head butts once she trusts you. She responds to attention with a sweet “sonic” purr and sometimes even love bites. Tessie kneads her bed with her paws for comfort and is a real cuddler. She is looking for a calm adult home where she can thrive and would prefer being the only cat in your life.

For more information, visit ASAP at the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter, 5473 Overpass Road. Adoption hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4:45 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information, visit or call (805) 683-3368


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