The most vulnerable animals in most public shelters are underage/orphaned kittens – those under 8 weeks old and especially those not yet eating on their own. Lacking the resources to provide round the clock feeding and care, these kittens are typically killed on intake unless a rescue group can take them. With rescue groups often full and never enough fosters, thousands of kittens are born to die every day in shelters across the country.
In the Spring of 2016, seeking a way to reduce this grim reality, CatPAWS launched the DIY Kitten Care Project.
This innovative program entails providing Kitten Care Kits to a local shelter which they in turn can offer to people who bring in kittens. The people who find and bring in kittens are candidly told by shelter staff what the likely fate of the kittens will be and asked if they are willing to foster at least until the kittens are eating on their own. Once kittens are eating on their own, options open up as rescues might be able to take them or the shelter can then be in a position to care for them.
This program was started almost out of a sense of desperation – a need to do something, anything – and none of us knew how well or if it would work. But the public embraced it and the shelter welcomed the opportunity to provide a better option. It is estimated that over 200 kittens in that first year were diverted from entering the shelter – and almost certain death – because of this program.
The following year brought an expanded effort which included a community outreach and education component, providing kitten care classes free of charge to the public. We hope to build on this program to keep saving tiny lives so they have a chance to grow up and have the full and cherished life all cats deserve.