Kitty Bungalow is a classic Hollywood success story … that is, if Hollywood were to ever write a screenplay about a cat rescue. The rescue’s “headmistress,” Shawn Simons, worked in the entertainment industry for many years, but the combination of a serious illness and the purchase of a rambling Victorian house in Los Angeles’ historic West Adams district inspired her to change her life direction. The path became clear when Simons realized that her neighborhood was overrun with feral cats, and no one was helping them. She stepped in to fill the void and Kitty Bungalow was born.
To keep the spirit of Kitty Bungalow fun along with helpful, Simons presented the rescue as a “home for wayward cats.” Most adult cats went through the trap-neuter-return process, while kittens and some friendly mature cats were sent to “charm school” (that is, socialized) to become adoptable. Kitty Bungalow now works with feral colonies throughout the Los Angeles area, and to date, 518 cats and kittens have “graduated” (been adopted) and 1,518 cats have received their “GED” (gone through trap-neuter-return).
Like most well-run rescues, Kitty Bungalow does not rely on donations alone, but also holds a big fundraising event which brings in a large percentage of the money it takes to keep the organization going. It made sense for Simons to draw on her entertainment industry background and create Broadway-style revues. For the past two years, it has been a variety show called A CATbaret, featuring many Hollywood luminaries singing and dancing in cat-themed numbers to benefit the ferals Kitty Bungalow is helping. This year, the stars appearing included Billy Boyd, Tia Carrere, Seamus Dever, Elisabeth Harnois and a host of others. And not all celebrities were human: The undisputed star of the show was Lil Bub. The day before the show, there was a Lil Bub meet-and-greet, and the line for this event snaked down the block of the Belasco Theater in downtown Los Angeles.
A CATbaret was a fun show, for the audience as well as the performers. Sponsors included Cat Fancy and Rescue Me, both owned by Catster’s new parent company, i-5 Publishing. Here are 10 moments that really stood out:
1. Lil Bub on the red carpet
Kitty Bunglow’s work strikes a chord with Lil Bub and her dude, Mike Bridavsky, because Bub herself started off life as a feral kitten. So seeing this little cat rub paws with human celebs was so very satisfying.
Bub also made a video appearance in the “What’s New Pussycat?” dance number.
And Bub and Mike had a few words at the beginning of the second act.
2. Celebs and dancers striking cat poses on the red carpet
The dancers did pretty credible feline imitations.
Pretty Naturi Naughton (TV drama Power) couldn’t resist when a reporter asked her to catify.
3. Seeing Pippin (Billy Boyd, Lord of the Rings) sing “Year of the Cat”
That was a treat!
4. Seamus Dever singing “Stray Cat Strut” and Jon Huertas singing “Black Cat Bone”
Both Castle cast members nailed their performances!
5. Nora the Piano Cat performing “Catcherto,” as conducted by Greg Haake
This was a repeat performance — the pair did a number composed by Alana Grelyak last year, too. Haake also conducted the orchestra for the whole show.
6. Watching cat videos between the numbers
Many of them were familiar — how could anyone have missed “An Engineer’s Guide to Cat Yodeling”? But there were also newer ones, such as “Cats vs Zombies – Feeding Your Cat In The Zombie Apocalypse” from the CATastrophes filmmakers.
7. The video of Kitty Bungalow volunteers hard at work
Because who can resist seeing cute kittens, especially cute rescue kittens?
8. Tia Carrere singing “I’ll Remember You” with the video of Christian the Lion playing on the screen
It was a moving moment for Carrere and the audience.
9. All the sponsors who funded the event
Because of their generosity, every dollar of each ticket went directly to Kitty Bungalow. The group did not have to pay for any of the cost to put on the show. Merch sales helped add to the “kitty.”
10. Seeing Shawn Simons beaming and looking glamorous
The world of rescue is a grimy business! So it was fun to see Shawn dressed up and having the time of her life.
And of course we can’t forget the goodie bag for the attendees, filled with treats for both humans and cats!
Learn how to live a better life with your cat on Catster:
- Ever Considered Adopting an Older or Disabled Cat? You Will After Seeing These Comics
- 5 Ways Cats Are Easier to Live With and Care for Than Dogs
- Are Laser Pointers Actually Good Cat Toys?
About the author: How does someone go from a respected rock journalist to a blogging cat’s underling? Don’t ask Janiss Garza — she’s been there and done that and is as confused as you. All she knows is that one day she was helping Lemmy Kilmister of Mot├Ârhead pen his autobiography and the next she was assisting her feisty Somali feline, Sparkle the Designer Cat, on her books and her blog at www.sparklecat.com — and without any credit! Fortunately she still sometimes manages to write under her own byline. She also has her own indie publishing company, FitCat, in which she nurtures other writers’ talent.