Pasadena offers much thanks to volunteers


Adopted foster kitten

(Left) Emily Carr and Ryan Thompson adopted one of their foster kittens. Mothman, pictured here, now helps with kitten care duties like napping with foster kitten Chocolate. (Right) Pasadena Humane foster volunteer Emily Carr, pictured with Clark Gable, one of more than 30 kittens she and her boyfriend Ryan Thompson have fostered since 2020. (Photos courtesy of Emily Carr)

Simply put, Pasadena Humane volunteers are the best!

In all my years working in the nonprofit sector, I’ve never seen such a dedicated and compassionate group of people as our volunteers. That’s why this week we are happy to be celebrating National Volunteer Appreciation Week.

Our staff members have been posting notes of gratitude around the shelter and signing thank you cards in appreciation for the hundreds of volunteers who help in all areas of our organization.

From working directly with the animals to supporting community events and providing administrative support, volunteers help make a difference for the animals in so many ways.

Emily Carr and her boyfriend, Ryan Thompson, are two of our amazing foster volunteers. Since signing up to foster in the early days of the pandemic, the couple has shared their home with a rotating cast of cats and kittens  — more than 30 by their latest count.

According to Emily, saying goodbye when it’s time for the kittens to be made available for adoption is one of the hardest parts of fostering. The couple had a particularly tough time letting go of one kitten made more adorable by his extra toes.

Mothman, the couple’s polydactyl cat, is what we in animal welfare like to call a “foster failure” or, as I like to think of it, a “foster win.” One of our happiest outcomes is when a foster family decides to adopt a foster pet.

“We actually gave him back to Pasadena Humane to be neutered and adopted, but after a few days, we couldn’t stop visiting him, so we knew we had to keep him,” Emily explained.

Now a year and a half old, Mothman helps the couple with their fostering duties. Once foster kittens have cleared their initial quarantine period, Mothman loves to groom, cuddle, and play with them.

Emily and Ryan’s most recent fosters were fragile orange tabbies who arrived at the shelter as strays. The siblings weighed just over a pound and needed some extra TLC before they were ready for adoption.

While the couple mainly fosters young kittens, they’ve also helped with adult medical fosters. Carrot Cake was one of their more challenging foster cases. The 8-year-old cat came to Pasadena Humane from a hoarding situation and had an eye condition that required surgery.

Carrot Cake needed to wear a cone and required twice-daily eye drops to help with his healing. “It was really sad to see,” shared Emily. “But he recovered great and went to a loving home, which is always the best reward!”

Now that spring has sprung, “kitten season” is officially here. If you are considering fostering, Emily has some great advice. “Do it!” she says. “It’s the most fun and adorable type of volunteer work you can do, and you can have all the sweetness of a pet without the big commitment!”

Pasadena Humane is actively recruiting foster volunteers for young kittens. We are also in need of supplies like kitten milk replacement, baby kitten food and other items.

Help support kittens by becoming a foster or donating to our “Kitten Shower Donation Drive.” Learn more at

Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.

This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on April 22, 2023.