A stranded school cat regains her playful ways at Helen Woodward Animal Center


Throughout the country, children are desperate for school to start back into session. The pandemic’s devastating effects on the younger generations are abundantly clear to parents everywhere. What might not be as obvious are the challenges faced by another group of schoolyard enthusiasts – school cats. The homeless cats known to frequent school halls, playgrounds and sandboxes regularly become the accidental property of custodians and teachers who feed and socialize with them throughout the year. Tragically, with schools shut down from coast to coast, these cats are facing isolation, starvation and frigid evening temperatures. Helen Woodward Animal Center welcomes one such cat whose sweet playful ways have earned her the name Recess.

Recess is back in good health and ready to be adopted.
Recess is back in good health and ready to be adopted.

Last month, an Inland California rescue group reached out to Helen Woodward Animal Center about a female cat seen roaming a deserted schoolyard. Known throughout the neighborhood during the school year, the cat had become a comfortable fixture in the halls of a local high school where the staff would set out food, a bed and shelter areas. When COVID-19 regulations shut the school down, the cat seemed to disappear. Recent sightings, however, revealed that the cat was suffering from drastic weight loss, exposure to the elements and lack of care.

“It’s possible that no one thought to help because they assumed she was feral,” stated Helen Woodward Animal Center Adoptions Services Manager Dora Dahlke. “There is a difference between feral and homeless cats. A feral cat won’t make eye contact and refuses to come near humans. Homeless cats are human-friendly, may become dependent on the people they see daily, and often long for touch and pets. There are wonderful organizations to provide tips to help both feral cats and homeless cats.”

Helen Woodward Animal Center was on the ready when the rescue group brought the nearly two-year-old cat in, naming her Recess as a tribute to her former home and playful nudges. Food, warmth and kindness have been the perfect cure. Recess is back in good health and ready to find the comfortable life she deserves. She goes available for adoption today.

“It takes a lot of vigilant people to care for those most vulnerable,” stated Dahlke. “We’re grateful to community members and animal-lovers who keep their eyes open for these beautiful creatures. In the midst of our own challenges, it’s easy to forget that school cats are dependent on mankind and we can’t abandon them when there’s a situation shift.”

Helen Woodward Animal Center reminds the community to stay vigilant for school cats who may be struggling since last year’s school closures.

For more information on Helen Woodward Animal Center or to adopt Recess, go online at or call (858) 756-4117 x 313.

For information regarding helping a cat you believe is feral, resources can be found at

—Helen Woodward Center news release