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Looking for love in all the right places

Posted: April 20, 2013 4:12 p.m.
Updated: April 20, 2013 4:12 p.m.
Dr. Amanda Gillen, DVM holds kitten "Yentl, as mother Siamese cross, "Barbra Streisand" looks on from her box at the Gillen's office in Canyon Country. Dr. Amanda Gillen, DVM holds kitten "Yentl, as mother Siamese cross, "Barbra Streisand" looks on from her box at the Gillen's office in Canyon Country.
Dr. Amanda Gillen, DVM holds kitten "Yentl, as mother Siamese cross, "Barbra Streisand" looks on from her box at the Gillen's office in Canyon Country.

Maverick has spent several months at Advanced Care Animal Care Center in Canyon Country, but the senior cat is far from sick. He’s looking for a new home and veterinarian/owner Amanda Gillen felt her office was a good place to start.

"A lot of vet hospitals have cats they foster and find homes for. It’s something I always wanted to do when I had my own hospital," Gillen said. "Cats have a worse chance of getting adopted out of shelters than dogs do. I think the last statistic I read was that 80 to 85 percent of cats at shelters get euthanized."

Things were looking bleak for Maverick before he came to Advanced Animal Care. The 12-year-old, 21 pound tabby cat was surrendered to a municipal shelter when his owner’s daughter returned home to have a baby. After spending his entire life as a pet, the senior cat quickly became confused and stressed at the shelter.

That’s when Saugus resident Bridget Alves, a long-time cat rescuer and publisher of Pet Me! Magazine, stepped in.

"I love the seniors, especially big ones like Maverick," Alves said. "I asked Dr. Gillen if Maverick could come to Advanced Animal Care so he could work on his weight management and be showcased to potential adopters, which is easier at a physical location where the cat can be seen."

Alves and Gillen had previously established a working relationship through Onyx, a young, female black cat Alves rescued from a shelter that Gillen agreed to foster. Onyx quickly charmed the staff and eventually a permanent fixture at the hospital when Gillen adopted her.

"Onyx is very smart, outgoing and friendly, she has what it takes to be an office cat," Gillen said. "I’m a foster failure with her, but Maverick is still looking for a home. I don’t have a deadline as to how long I can keep him, so he’ll stay here until he gets adopted."

Like Onyx, Maverick has settled into a routine at his unconventional residence. However, the slightly shy cat prefers to hang out in Dr. Gillen’s office, sleeping in a bed under her desk. His photo is prominently displayed at the front desk, in case Maverick isn’t feeling social enough to make an appearance in the lobby.

"Maverick does fine with children and tolerates dogs, but I think if I could name his ideal home it would probably be with a couple without children or a person without a dog or maybe with a senior dog," she said. "Basically someone that’s looking for cuddles, because Maverick is 22 lbs. of purring lap kitty love."

According to Alves, veterinary clients make for fantastic prospective adopters. "You know whoever is adopting that cat is a person that’s on board with taking care of their pets," she said.

Advanced Animal Care recently agreed to foster a mother cat with kittens from Alves, who rescued the family from Lancaster Shelter.

"They needed somewhere safe to stay for a few weeks until they’re well enough to go to a foster home," Gillen said. "All these babies will need a home, so if anyone’s interested, they’re welcome to come here and meet them."

Across town, at Pet Supply in Saugus, owner Chris Hoeflich is trying to find a home for Ichabod, a striking five year old black cat with a charming overbite. Ichabod came to Pet Supply when his owner, a regular customer at Pet Supply for many years, died of cancer. Since the family was unable to care for Ichabod, Hoeflich took him in.

"Ichabod’s a beautiful cat, fixed, with all his shots, he’s just a little shy," Hoeflich said affectionately as he reached in an ornate cage to pet the cat, sleeping peacefully in a carpeted cubby. Ichabod stretched and playfully tapped Hoeflich’s hand in response.

Over the last fifteen years since launching Pet Supply, Hoeflich has fostered countless cats and kittens in need. "We never go looking for kittens, they’re usually rescues or turn-ins from local families," Hoeflich said.

Hoeflich charges $45 for cat adoptions. All kittens are dewormed and adopters have to sign a contract to get their pet fixed.

So far, Hoeflich has had good luck with finding good homes. "Santa Clarita is such a great town, most people here are really nice," he said. "Our one big problem up here is that some people let their cats outdoors, so we counsel adopters to keep their pets inside."

Advanced Animal Care is located at 19406 Soledad Canyon Road, Canyon Country. For more information, call 661-263-4334 or visit Pet Supply is located at 26831 Bouquet Canyon Road, Saugus. For more information call 661-296-2654 or visit


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