This season, Brother Wolf Animal Rescue is expecting 1,500 kittens to pass through our doors. Many of those 1,500 will be orphaned neonatal (newborn) kittens who will require extra care and attention in order to survive. Without mothers, neonatal kittens depend on foster parents for food, comfort, warmth, bathing, and pottying. While fostering is temporary by definition, caring for bottle babies is a full-time commitment for their first few weeks of life.
It takes a special kind of person to commit to the extra time and care neonates require, and we’ll need a whole network of those special people in order to save as many kittens as possible this year.
“The more foster parents we have,” explains Sheridan Boyle, a member of Brother Wolf’s medical team, “the quicker kittens will move in and out of the shelter.”
Shelters, which are akin to elementary schools in terms of germs, can be dangerous for a newborn kitten’s delicate immune system. “Rather than staying at the shelter for six hours while we wait for a foster to commit,” says Sheridan, “a kitten may only stay for an hour if we have more trained fosters. That drastically reduces the chances of having a virus introduced to the kittens.”
The best way to recruit and keep fosters is to give them all of the tools they need to be successful. We’ve always provided fosters with supplies and medical care, but this year we’re also adding a series of workshops aimed at teaching all of the skills and knowledge necessary to help bottle babies thrive.
Brother Wolf’s kitten classes will happen every Thursday from late April through June and are free to the public.
“The kitten classes are going to be learning tools that will help empower more people to foster orphaned kittens or pregnant/nursing mama cats,” says Alissa Eller, a member of Brother Wolf’s medical team who will be teaching the kitten care classes. “The classes will also help current foster parents learn more about medical procedures and what medical concerns to look out for in regards to bottle babies.”
The kitten classes will teach general kitten care as well as the specific care needed throughout different stages of life — including how to prepare formula and bottle feed, how to safely keep neonatal kittens warm, and what to look for in bowel movements. There will be sections of the class devoted to orphaned kittens and kittens who are nursing from a mom.
“We have to find a balance between not making fostering bottle babies seem too scary but also making it seem serious,” Sheridan says. “A lot of fosters in the past have been scared to take on kittens because there are so many things that can happen with them and changes can happen quickly. We’re trying to reduce those chances as much as possible. We want to make it a fun experience but also make people aware that medical challenges can happen. We will always do what we can to work through them and save as many lives as possible. One of the most important things we can do is make sure fosters know we’re available if they have questions. In the end, the more happy and competent fosters we have, the more kittens we’ll be able to rescue. More fosters means more lives saved.”
In addition to the kitten care classes and all of the supplies needed to properly care for bottle babies, Brother Wolf offers 24/7 emergency support, a comprehensive kitten care booklet, and camaraderie from seasoned bottle baby fosters like Tonya Everett. Tonya has taken hundreds of bottle babies under her wings since she started fostering for Brother Wolf eight years ago. During kitten season, Tonya has as many as five neonates at a time in her care, each needing to be fed every 2-3 hours around the clock.
“I don’t get a lot of sleep,” Tonya says, “but I absolutely love what I do. I love being mommy, taking care of them, and receiving their unconditional love. My favorite part is the moment when I introduce a kitten to a potential adopter. It’s so special to see the instant love and connection between that person and the kitten. Matching a baby with the person who is going to love them forever, that makes it all worthwhile.”
Want to learn more about fostering kittens? We’d love to see you at one of our kitten care classes, which will be help each Thursday from April 20th – June 29th, 5-7pm, at Earthfare in the Westgate Plaza. The classes are free and open to the public.
The videos in this post are courtesy of our friend Kitten Lady. Please visit her website, kittenlady.org, for more more educational videos and information about caring for neonatal kittens. If you choose to foster bottle babies with Brother Wolf, you’ll receive one of Kitten Lady’s comprehensive Kitten Care pamphlets! Oh, and follow her on Instagram @kittenxlady for an endless stream of adorable kittens.
HERE ARE 3 EASY WAYS TO HELP KITTENS:
- DONATE – Donations help us feed, board, and provide medical care to the 500+ animals throughout the adoption center and in foster homes. Visit our Amazon Wishlist to shop for items that can be shipped right to our door or become a member of the Compassionate Circle by making a recurring monetary donation.
- FOSTER – Kittens who are too young to be vaccinated can’t safely live at the adoption center and must go to foster homes. Do you have space in your home and heart for temporary kittens? Click here to learn more and sign up!
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