Cat Rescues and Shelters in Berkeley and East Bay: A Guide to Adopting, Volunteering, and Caring for Cats

by | Feb 7, 2024

Hey there, fellow cat enthusiasts! It’s Dan McPartlan here, founder of The Comforted Kitty. If you’re passionate about helping our feline friends in Berkeley and the East Bay area, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re looking to adopt a new family member or find ways to support local cat rescues and shelters, this guide is for you. Let’s dive into how we can make a difference in the lives of cats in need and ensure they find loving homes.

Before You Adopt: What to Know

Adopting a cat is a rewarding experience that changes both your life and the life of a furry friend. Before you bring a new cat home from a shelter, here are a few things to consider:

  • Lifestyle Match: Make sure the cat’s personality fits with your lifestyle. Some cats are more active and playful, while others prefer calm environments.
  • Long-term Commitment: Cats can live for 15 years or more. Ensure you’re ready for the commitment to care for your cat throughout their life.
  • Preparation: Have all the essentials ready — a litter box, food, water dishes, a comfortable bed, and toys. We put together a list of some of the best pet stores for cats in Berkeley.
  • Proper Cat Care: Take some time to understand what is needed to properly care for a cat. We have an extensive library or resources on our blog including how to find the best cat sitter in Berkley here.


Asian female veterinarian holding an adult orange cat

Volunteering and Supporting Local Rescues

There are many ways to support cat rescues and shelters beyond adoption. Volunteering your time or resources can have a significant impact. Here are some popular ways to get involved:

  • Fostering: Providing a temporary home for cats waiting for adoption helps socialize them and frees up space in shelters.
  • Donations: Shelters always need food, litter, and financial contributions to cover medical expenses and operational costs.
  • Community TNR Programs: Participate in Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) efforts to help manage and reduce the stray cat population humanely.


Cat Shelters and Rescues in East Bay and Berkeley

Many great shelters and organizations are caring for the cat population in East Bay. We can’t highlight them all but from our experience in the area we have put together some of the best to reach out to if you are looking to volunteer or adopt a new member into your family.


Berkeley Humane (Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society)

Smiling Berkeley Human Staff Woman

Berkeley Humane stands as a beacon of hope and compassion in the heart of our community, providing unwavering support and care for cats and dogs in need for over 125 years. Located in a former pool hall in West Berkeley, this private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization has flourished into a cornerstone for animal welfare, driven by a volunteer Board of Directors dedicated to the well-being of our furry friends and their human companions. Despite a devastating fire in 2010, Berkeley Humane’s commitment to its mission has not wavered. With programs that include adoptions, medical and behavior evaluations, vaccinations, and spay/neuter surgeries, they successfully matched over 1,000 animals with loving homes last year alone.

Adopting from Berkeley Humane is a straightforward process designed to ensure each cat finds the perfect home. Potential adopters are encouraged to browse pet profiles online, visit the Adoption Center at 2700 Ninth St. Berkeley during specified hours, and meet their new best friend, with each animal receiving comprehensive care and an adoption package that includes medical support, a free examination, and training discounts.

For those looking to make a difference, volunteering at Berkeley Humane is a fulfilling opportunity to save lives. Whether it’s dog walking, fostering, or assisting at events, volunteers are crucial to their mission. The Foster to Family program, in particular, offers a unique chance to care for animals until they find their forever homes, supported by Berkeley Humane’s resources.

As a fellow cat lover and the founder of The Comforted Kitty, I understand the importance of supporting organizations like Berkeley Humane. Their dedication to the welfare of cats and dogs mirrors our own commitment to providing top-notch care for your feline friends when you’re away. If you’re considering adding a new feline member to your family or looking for ways to support the cat community, Berkeley Humane is an excellent place to start.


Marin Humane

Cat in cage waiting to be adopted

    • Website:
    • Address: 171 Bel Marin Keys Blvd. Novato California 94949
    • Phone: 415.883.4621

Marin Humane, a cornerstone of compassion in our community, has long been a haven for cats and dogs in need. With the welcoming of Hopalong Animal Rescue into their family in July 2021, they’ve significantly amplified their impact, bringing more joy and wagging tails than ever before. Situated at the heart of our efforts to find loving homes for these animals is the adoption process, which is both heartwarming and straightforward. You can meet your potential new best friend at their Novato shelter or during their mobile adoption events, a testament to their dedication to connecting pets with people.

For those of us looking to contribute beyond adoption, Marin Humane offers a plethora of volunteer opportunities, from keeping kennels tidy to assisting in dog training classes. Their call for volunteers stretches across Marin and the East Bay, embracing anyone willing to lend a hand or open their home as a foster. This fostering program is particularly close to my heart, providing a nurturing temporary home for animals, and showcasing the profound difference a little love and care can make.

Supporting Marin Humane doesn’t just mean giving an animal a new home; it’s about bolstering a community that stands for the welfare and rights of animals. Their invitation to volunteer or donate opens up numerous avenues for involvement, whether you’re assisting directly with the animals or contributing to the broader mission of animal welfare. It’s a mission that resonates deeply with us at The Comforted Kitty, where every cat’s well-being is our top priority.


Island Cat Resources and Adoption (ICRA)

close up photo of a cute kitten tilting it's head playfully

Island Cat Resources and Adoption (ICRA), nestled in the heart of the Alameda and Oakland communities, embodies the spirit of compassion and dedication to the welfare of free-roaming and unowned cats. As an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, ICRA has made significant strides since its inception in 1994, spaying or neutering over 22,000 cats and finding homes for more than 3,300, thanks to its collaborative efforts with local pet adoption organizations and the support of the community. The merger with Hopalong Animal Rescue in 2021 has further amplified their impact, enabling them to extend their loving foster network and adoption outposts across the Bay Area, making more happy tails a reality.

At the heart of ICRA’s mission is not just the physical well-being of cats but also the education of the community about the importance of spay/neuter programs and responsible pet ownership. Their approach is multifaceted, from hands-on rescue and trap-neuter-return (TNR) projects to fostering programs where cats are placed in nurturing homes until they’re ready for adoption. ICRA’s dedication to matching the right cat with the right home ensures that each adoption is a perfect fit, benefitting both the cats and their new families.

Supporting ICRA can take many forms, from adopting one of their lovingly cared-for cats to volunteering in various capacities such as helping at adoption sites, fostering, or even assisting in TNR programs. Each contribution, big or small, plays a crucial role in ICRA’s continued success in improving the lives of cats and educating the community.

For cat lovers in the Berkeley area looking to make a difference, ICRA offers a rewarding opportunity to get involved and support a cause close to our hearts.


Cat Town Oakland

Volunteer playing with cat

Photo by Scott Russell

Cat Town in Oakland embarks on a mission that breaks traditional rescue boundaries by focusing on cats often deemed unadoptable. This innovative nonprofit, founded in 2011 by Ann Dunn, is dedicated to transforming the fate of elderly, stressed, sick, or injured felines that would otherwise face euthanasia. By proving these cats’ adoptability, Cat Town has drastically reduced the euthanasia rate at Oakland Animal Services by more than 70%.

Cat Town’s approach is unique, offering a lifeline to cats overlooked by conventional rescue efforts. Their success story began in a small foster network, growing to include the first cat cafe in the U.S., the Cat Town Adoption Center. This cage-free environment not only showcases cats’ true personalities but also allows them to gain confidence and trust at their own pace. In 2017, this space was expanded to accommodate cats with more specialized needs, thanks to the support of Maddie’s Fund and Pet Food Express.

The heart of Cat Town’s mission lies in its community and volunteer-driven model. Volunteers play a crucial role, whether as Adoption Center hosts, cat socializers, or fosters, providing temporary homes for cats on their path to adoption. Cat Town also extends its impact through public outreach and education, dispelling myths about cat behavior and health, and sharing its successful model with rescue organizations nationwide.

For those passionate about making a difference in the lives of Oakland’s most vulnerable cats, Cat Town offers numerous volunteer opportunities. From fostering and socializing cats to assisting with marketing and operations, there’s a place for everyone to contribute to this transformative work.

Cat Town’s commitment to saving cats is not just a local endeavor; it’s a nationwide call to action. By volunteering or fostering, you become part of a pioneering effort to ensure every cat, regardless of age or condition, finds a loving home. To join Cat Town’s mission and learn more about how you can help, visit their website or contact them directly to become a beacon of hope for cats in need.


East Bay SPCA

Female East Bay SPCA Volunteer Holding a Cute, Small Kitten

    • Website:
    • Phone: (510) 569-0702
    • Location: Oakland Adoption Center & Animal Services 8323 Baldwin Street Oakland, CA 9462
    • General Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
    • Adoption Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m

East Bay SPCA, with a venerable history dating back to 1874, stands as a pillar of animal welfare in the East Bay, pioneering innovative approaches to the protection and care of companion animals. Emphasizing early-age spay/neuter for sheltered pets and advocating for responsible animal acquisition and community cat management, East Bay SPCA actively contributes to creating a more humane society. Their stance against puppy mills and irresponsible online pet sales underscores their commitment to ensuring that every pet adoption is conducted with the animal’s best interest at heart.

The organization’s mission is to foster the human-animal bond through accessible, respected expertise, transforming the lives of cats, dogs, and their human companions. Operating independently, East Bay SPCA is a local nonprofit unaffiliated with national organizations, dedicated to serving its community through compassion, collaboration, innovation, and stewardship.

East Bay SPCA offers an array of programs designed to make animal welfare services accessible to everyone in the community. From a free behavior helpline and veterinary services with financial assistance to humane education programs and crisis pet boarding, they strive to support pet owners in providing a quality life for their animals.

For those looking to adopt, East Bay SPCA provides an up-to-date online listing of adoptable dogs and cats, special adoption programs, and the opportunity for in-person meetings to ensure the right match. Moreover, the organization welcomes volunteers and fosters, inviting individuals to contribute to their mission of creating a more compassionate world. Volunteering or fostering with East Bay SPCA not only helps transform the lives of shelter animals but also strengthens the bond between humans and pets, aligning with the vision of a compassionate community.


Ensure Proper Care for Your Cat’s When You Can’t Be There

For those times when you can’t be at home with your beloved cat, choosing the right cat sitter is crucial. That’s where The Comforted Kitty comes in. We understand that leaving your cat, even for a short time, can be stressful for both of you. That’s why we offer personalized, in-home cat-sitting services that ensure your cat stays comfortable and happy in their familiar environment. Our sitters are passionate about cats and dedicated to providing the best care, including playtime, feeding, and lots of love. While it’s not the best choice for all cats, it has many benefits over cat boarding.

Here’s what sets The Comforted Kitty apart:

  • Personalized Care Plans: Tailored to meet the specific needs and preferences of your cat.
  • Experienced Sitters: Our team is trained to handle a variety of care scenarios, ensuring your cat is in safe hands.
  • Peace of Mind: Regular updates and photos keep you connected with your cat while you’re away.

Learn More about The Comforted Kitt’s Cat Sitting Services here:


cat sitter kneeling next to cat with bowl of food

Let’s Make Berkeley a Better Place For All Cats!

Supporting cat rescues and shelters in Berkeley and the East Bay is a cause close to our hearts. By adopting, volunteering, or contributing to local rescues, we can make a significant difference in the lives of many cats. And when it comes to providing the best care for your cat while you’re away, The Comforted Kitty is here to help. Our commitment to personalized, compassionate care ensures your cat is well looked after, giving you peace of mind on your travels.

Ready to make a difference in the life of a cat and ensure your feline friend receives the best care while you’re away? Reach out to The Comforted Kitty in East Bay today. Let’s work together to create a better world for our feline friends.



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