Feral cats.
Feral cats. Photography courtesy Luxe Paws.

Luxe Paws Takes a Neighborhood Approach to Community Cats

Luxe Paws is a volunteer TNR group that focuses its life-saving efforts on a few different Los Angeles neighborhoods.

Seven years ago, Jacquie Navratil was serving on the board of directors of an animal rescue organization in her Los Angeles neighborhood when she realized something: There were so many cats that needed help — but there were also many community members who wanted to help but didn’t know how to get started.

“I noticed people would bring in cats and kittens,” Jacquie says. “They were never asked where the kittens came from, if there was a mother cat who needed to be fixed and not educated about how critical spay/neuter is. I also noticed many people couldn’t adopt or foster but still wanted to help. Many didn’t have wealth to donate, but they did have a little spare time.”

With that in mind, she and a small group of volunteers decided to set about making a difference. And thus, in 2012, Luxe Paws was born.

How Luxe Paws Is Different

Jacquie Navratil founded Luxe Paws in 2012, and the organization has helped thousands of cats through TNR.
Jacquie Navratil founded Luxe Paws in 2012, and the organization has helped thousands of cats through TNR. Photography courtesy Luxe Paws.

Serving the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, East Hollywood, Silver Lake, Echo Park and Highland Park, Luxe Cats provides trap-neuter-return (TNR) for community cats and enlists the aid of volunteers in those neighborhoods through their outreach efforts.

“LA is home to an estimated 3 million homeless cats and just under 5 million people, which means every neighborhood has cats that need to be fixed,” Jacquie says. Jacquie points out that many people have demanding careers and busy personal lives and might not have a lot of time to help — but they want to make a difference. “By setting up a model in which people can do outreach to determine where the cats are, donate a few hours in the evening to help trap cats or volunteer to transport trapped cats to and from a spay/neuter clinic, it’s a big impact with a low investment of time,” she says.

The area Luxe Paws serves is a study in contrasts. Some neighborhoods are filled with multi-million dollar homes owned by big-name celebrities, while some are very low-income, and a few are even dangerous, such as around Dodger Stadium, where coyotes prowl the streets and alleys looking for food — which can come in the form of unlucky outdoor cats.

“Pet cats and teenage kittens are an easy meal for a coyote, so they’re naturally going to be drawn into backyards if there’s an easy food source,” Jacquie says. “Humans and coyotes aren’t a good mix, so by stabilizing the homeless cat population, we’re discouraging coyotes from lingering in our backyards.” One of the most important parts of successful TNR operations is getting buy-in from the community. Luxe Paws always gets permission from property owners or caregivers before they trap and fix cats. “Most people are overjoyed to know there’s help,” Jacquie says. “The greatest thing about a neighborhood-based approach is that it connects you with your neighbors for a lifesaving cause.”

In addition to its TNR efforts, Luxe Paws works to foster and socialize pet cats and kittens found on the streets. “Easily 90 percent or more of LA’s rescues will only pull cats from shelters; they won’t take cats or kittens from the street,” Jacquie explains. “This means we have no outlet for the cats we find. Luckily, we’ve nurtured a small foster network” — not to mention partnerships with neighborhood businesses. Those partnerships allow Luxe Paws to conduct outreach events to promote its TNR work and host “adoption mingles” for cats socialized in Luxe Paws’ foster homes.

Luxe Paws’ Growing Success

Jacquie Navratil of Luxe Paws.
Jacquie Navratil of Luxe Paws. Photography courtesy Luxe Paws.

The results speak for themselves.

“Our first year, we fixed 67 cats,” Jacquie says. “In 2018, we fixed 914, and in just the first 12 weeks of 2019, our team has fixed 237. We could do more; however, we’re limited by available spay/neuter appointments.”

Luxe Paws uses FixNation, the only spay/neuter service provider in Los Angeles that fixes trapped cats for free. “We sincerely hope, as TNR grows in popularity, the public will help support people who trap and fix cats by funding free, easy spay/neuter operations,” Jacquie says. “People sincerely want to help, but they can’t unless there’s a service provider ready to fix the cats.”

Luxe Paws gets its funding from individual supporters who donate what they can and businesses that want to help support TNR. “We front money from our own paychecks, we do bake sales and community events,” Jacquie says. “We list every penny we spend, and when the public sees how many lives we’re impacting every year, most are happy to skip Starbucks and throw in a few bucks to help.”

Luxe Paws is working on becoming a nonprofit organization. Once it’s established, Jacquie hopes Luxe Paws will be able to nurture a collaborative effort to support small TNR teams across the city.

Ultimately, Jacquie says, “LA doesn’t need more nonprofits; it needs a more impact-driven model to support people who want to invest their time into supporting spay/neuter. “To anyone who’s considering adoption, please seek out a rescue that’s TNR-focused,” she concludes. “Even if they’re not a nonprofit, a couple of cat lovers fixing cats is just as needy, and they’re out there in the trenches saving lives.”

Thumbnail: Photography courtesy Luxe Paws.

About the author

JaneA Kelley is the author of the award-winning cat advice blog Paws and Effect. She is a professional member of the Cat Writers’ Association and an advocate for all cats, whether they live with people or in the community.

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4 thoughts on “Luxe Paws Takes a Neighborhood Approach to Community Cats”

  1. 1 billion birds are killed by feral cats every year. Yes, neutering cats is a good idea, but cat owners need to be more responsible and leave their cats indoors or leash them

    1. Has a study been made, examining cat poop for traces of birds? I’ll bet not. Studies have proven that the number one force driving extinction of any species is human activity, specifically loss of habitat. Cats are not the most successful hunters; they average only a 40% success rate. And since birds can fly, they can easily escape cats. Funny how everybody seems to overlook that. And since we don’t have too many ground-nesting bird species in the U.S., I think the cat haters, like you LJ, should spend more time educating themselves with the truth, not devouring junk science.

  2. Organisations like Luxe Paws make a great difference in the life of homeless/feral cats. I hope Luxe Paws will keep up this great work!

  3. It is true, TNR does work. It is rewarding work but also exhausting. What most people don’t understand is the cost–the cost to the cat, the cost of the spaying/neutering, and the cost to the people who do the work of TNR. If each street in a neighborhood had at least one person to help (feed, monitor cats, set traps, etc.) so many more cats could be spay/neutered. These cats belong to a community whether that community wants them or not. Helping with some of the work aids the cats, the TNR group, and the cats. More cats spay/neutered means less kittens and faster stabilization of the group. Please, if you want to help, make the effort to help. Actions speak louder than words.

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