Sunday, May 4, 2014

A Peek Inside the Kitten Nursery

Clara and I hustle up the stairs at the Peninsula Humane Society to the second floor Kitten Nursery for our 5:00 p.m. dinner shift. Seven years ago, the PHS started this all-volunteer effort as a way to save the hundred-plus kittens between 2 and 6 weeks that would arrive at the shelter without a mom during "kitten season" (spring - early fall). Without special feeding arrangements and veterinary care, these kittens would surely perish. 
We head into the front room to check the boards and see what needs to be done. There are four cages  nurseries with a litter of kittens in each nursery that need tending. There's also a note on the board "There are 16 kittens in the back nursery!"  Clara and I decide to split up. She'll work with the volunteers up front, and I head into the back to help the volunteer there.
I walk into the back nursery, and the kittens are hungry! I am greeted by their crying chorus: "mew, mew, mew!" Some are climbing up their front doors. Time to get to work. Nursery 1 has four kittens. Each one needs to be weighed, fed and have its paper work updated. Most of the kittens need to be fed with a syringe. 
I grab a kitten by the scruff of its neck, settle him on his back feet, wiggle the syringe into the corner of his mouth, and say some encouraging words while I squirt the food in. I'm learning how much each kitten can eat and how fast. Inevitably some ends up on their face, on the towel, on the outside of the syringe and on me. It's a messy process. But very fulfilling! 
Before we put the kittens back, we quickly check their nursery, making sure the towels and litter box are clean. We leave some food because the goal is to get them to eat on their own. We shape a towel into a donut and place it onto the warm spot created by the heating pad under the towels. The kittens, with full tummies, are all warm and sleepy. The picture of contentment; no mewling now.
After a very busy three hour shift, we mop the floors and make sure everything looks good. I snap a quick picture from the public viewing area of the front nursery. Tomorrow morning a new shift of volunteers will arrive for the morning feeding. I hope they all got a good night's sleep!

17 comments:

helena said...

what a satisfying volunteer role - those kittens are so so cute

Sian said...

TSO says - why don't we have a kitten nursery here? That would be her dream volunteering job. Mind you, I'm sure you are tired after a shift with those characters

Jane said...

what a great idea, I would be a keen volunteer if there was one here!

Gail said...

I've never heard of a kitten nursery. It sounds like you had a very busy 3 hours.

Karen said...

We have a wonderful animal rescue center near Rochester. I wonder if they have a kitten nursery. What satisfying work it must be!

alexa said...

Your contented kitten picture speaks volumes for your and Clara's selfless work. Taking my hat off to you all in admiration.

Lynda said...

I could not do this. I'd want to take everyone of them home. So rewarding volunteer work and great pics. Thanks for sharing.

MeOfCourse said...

That is very good of you to help these little critters out. They are darling. Nice job.

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

That is such a great idea! Our shelter reliss on nursing cats fostering the motherless too young kittens

nancy y said...

great work you two are doing. They are sure adorable... the grey one reminds me of Miss Friday, Dana's rescued kitty who is now 7 yarsl old!

Abi said...

What incredible work you and Clara do. They look adorable, bundles of fluff but I can imagine there is an enormous amount of hard work going on in that shelter to care for them. Thank you for sharing the photos Rinda and bringing some animal happiness into my Monday evening!

Deb @ PaperTurtle said...

You've been killing me with those adorable photos on Instagram, Rinda! Man, I want a kitten!!! But alas, we have the old man, Whiskers Jay, who is more than enough cat for our house these days!

Carolyn Phillips said...

Oh how cute, and what a satisfying volunteer job it must be.

Karen said...

What a gorgeous post and it must tear at your heart for there to be so many little orphans to care for

Beverly said...

Great volunteer work and they are all so precious. Do they keep them all until they are adopted?

Jimjams said...

What a great place - and a satisfying voluntary "job" ... I'd do it in a flash if there were a place like that here.

Missus Wookie said...

Amazingly cute but hard work - I've had to hand feed two!