The Cats of Oceanside Story

A love letter from the Founder and Executive Director

Thank You for Being Here

Our story starts in ...

Escondido, where I grew up with lots of cats.

When I eventually moved to Oceanside almost 10 years ago - I call it the 'Escondido By the Sea' - my landlord asked me if I ran for exercise, I said yes and she said, "Run toward the ocean, don't go East, it's dangerous."

This is how Cats of Oceanside got started.

I was living alone for the first time, had no animals, and I missed all the cats at my parent's house. So, to get my cat fix, I would go for runs several times a week around the Oceanside neighborhoods and pet the friendly cats I would meet. I eventually knew every cat within a five block radius of my house.

I started to take pictures of my new cat friends and in 2017 I started an Instagram, @catsofoceanside, that was simply pictures of cats I saw around town.

During the pandemic I started fostering kittens and fostering changed my life.

I found purpose in fostering, my perspective changed and my heart grew. Dolly, my white and orange cat, was a 'foster fail' during the pandemic.

Right before and during the pandemic is when I noticed the neighborhood really start to change. There were more free roaming cats and I realized a lot of lower income families couldn't afford rapidly raising rent prices and moved out. Unfortunately, many cats got left behind. There was also an influx of young, hip couples moving in with designer dogs; the cats, hunching under cars and running across busy streets looking for their next meal, literally went unnoticed.

Around this time, the policy of the local humane society changed regarding cats, it became so cats without microchips were spayed/neutered, put on a brief stray hold and if not claimed, put back on the street no matter their temperment. Free TNR services were suspended during most of the pandemic and as a result, the population of free roaming cats exploded.

I actually thought to myself, someone has to do something about this.

That was one of those jarring moments when you realize - that someone is ME.

In December 2021, I turned Cats of Oceanside into a legitimate non profit and made it our mission to help those friendly cats who fall through the gaps, end up on the street or are born there. The cats who need someone to notice them and give them a (second) chance at a loving home.

I always think of cats as the 'underdog' of the pet world. Pun intended. I don't think they get the credit or respect they deserve. Cats are heavily nuanced and incredible companions if you take the time to understand them.

With Cats of Oceanside I not only want to help the cats of Oceanside, but also educate and advocate on their behalf, take the crazy out of cat lady, and connect the people of Oceanside with how cool cats and compassion can be.

However, none of this can be done without YOUR support, thank you for being here.


Alison Smith

Founder & Executive Director