Renovations are underway for the new Hearts Alive Village Veterinary Clinic, with a lot of attention being paid to getting the Kitten Nursery just right. Go ahead… we know you want to “aww!”
Everyone loves an adorable little kitten. Unfortunately, there are way more kittens than there are homes. Stand by for some sobering facts.
- There are an estimated 350,000 stray cats in Las Vegas alone!
- 1,400 cats and kittens are euthanized every day in municipal shelters around the country (this doesn’t take into account the kittens that are born on the street and suffer needlessly before they die)
- One unspayed female cat, her mate, and their offspring can be responsible for… wait for it… 11,606,077 over a 9 year period. Yeah, go read that again. That says 11 million.
- Kittens 8 weeks and under are extremely vulnerable and need special care to grow up big and strong.
Where Do All These Kittens Come From?
Where do all these kittens come from?
We’ll skip the birds and the bees talk for time’s sake. When we get a call to help kittens, they are coming from a few possible sources:
- Motherless kittens that are born from strays in the neighborhood. Remember those estimated 350,000 stray cats…
- Kittens that are born from owned pets whose owners either didn’t have the money, the knowledge, or the concern to get their pets fixed.
- Kittens born from people surrendering their owned pets who they chose never to fix.
Since so many cats are euthanized in shelters around the country, and strays or ferals are often not adoptable, many rescues take part in TNR or Trap, Neuter, and Return programs. This means that animals are captured from the streets, fixed (and ear-tipped so they are easily recognizable), and then returned to where they were taken from. It’s basically a super quick alien abduction that keeps them out of the shelters, and unable to make more kitties. Remember, in a span of 9 years, that’s preventing 11 million+ cats from being born… per cat.
Why Do We Need a Kitten Nursery?
Our primary goal when we rescue a kitten is to rescue their momma too. Kittens thrive with their moms, plus, if an unaltered cat is left on the streets, she could have another 1-2 litters that very year. Best to bring her in and get her fixed to stop the breeding cycle.
However, it’s not always possible to find the momma, and sometimes, we find her but she isn’t healthy enough to care for her kittens (for example, she isn’t producing enough milk). This is where fosters and neo-natal kitten caregivers come in.
We try to place kittens in foster homes, but often, these calls come late at night or early in the mornings, or we just don’t have a foster available. Our kitten nursery will have 24 hour coverage so these little babies will be well cared for until an experienced foster home can be arranged.
Why Can’t the Shelters Take Them?
Municipal shelters are funded through municipalities and must operate within their means. Kittens require space and money, which is often in short supply. They also require round-the-clock care which shelters don’t staff for. Because of this, if there are no fosters available to take the kitten home immediately, they will often be euthanized that same day.
Even when shelters do their best to care for kittens, the shelter environment just isn’t a safe place for these little creatures. At that age, they are extremely susceptible to diseases and need to be quarantined away from other animals.
What is Required in a Kitten Nursery?
When a kitten is brought in to the nursery, he or she will:
- Undergo a quick assessment to determine their age
- Be weighed
- Be given a physical exam
- Begin feeding
Depending on their age and condition, they will spend some time in an Incubator which regulates their temperature and the humidity in their environment. A huge thanks goes out to all the amazing supporters of our board member and foster mom extraordinaire, Nikki Martinez (myfosterskittens on Instagram). She asked for help and boy did she get it! Her followers donated much of the needed supplies to set up the kitten nursery. A special thanks goes to Diane Varner who chose to use the savings she received on her monthly medications, to purchase not one, but two incubators and an oxygen concentrator. (Having a kitten on oxygen can cost up to $350 per day at a veterinary hospital!)
Hearts Alive Village volunteers will be scheduled 24 hours a day to feed, clean, and care for the babies until we can find a bottle-feeding foster to take them, or they are weaned and eating on their own so they can go to any kitten foster.
How Long Before it is Safe to Adopt Out a Kitten?
No kitten will ever leave the care of Hearts Alive Village before they are spayed or neutered. Once a kitten is healthy, social, and at least two pounds, they can be fixed, vaccinated, and micro-chipped. They are then ready for adoption into a loving and nurturing home!
How Can I Get Involved?
Everyone can help cur-tail the cat population! Here are just a few ways that you can get involved:
You knew we were going to start there, didn’t you? Of course! There are too many cats and they reproduce at a rate that gives bunnies a run for their money. The only way that we will ever get control of our kitten situation, is to spay and neuter. Otherwise, we will be overrun with kittens and frankly, there aren’t enough homes or feather toys to go around.
Taking an animal into your home may not make a dent in the overpopulation problem, but it will mean the world to that animal. Hearts Alive Village provides the food, supplies, veterinary care, and the training you need to become a world class kitten foster.
Kittens can’t drive, and sometimes, their foster parents aren’t able to take them to vet appointments or meet and greets with potential adopters. You may not be able to foster, but offering to transport a kitty can make a huge difference in their lives!
At any time during Kitten Season, Hearts Alive Village has 300+ kittens in their care. Can you even imagine how much it costs in food and litter for these little guys? We are so grateful to our supporters who send us kitten food and non-clumping litter to take care of these munchkins! You can view our Amazon wishlist and have the products sent directly to us.
If you want to help furnish the Kitten Nursery, our Veterinary Equipment Supply drive is the perfect way to make a direct impact.
Until we get our clinic up and running, we must take our kittens to partnering animal hospitals around the valley. While they give us a discount, the cost of veterinary care is extremely high. Healthy kittens cost approximately $100 to spay/neuter, micro-chip and vaccinate. Kittens with medical issues, on the other hand, can run into the thousands. For example, we recently took in a kitten with a ruptured eye. The surgery to remove his eye was $800… and that’s just one kitten!
Our costs will be much more affordable once our clinic opens, however, we will still rely on the support of our community to keep our kitten nursery and our clinic running. You can donate here.
How many kittens we can save is dependent on our funding and fosters. You can help us with both.
Are you looking to add a furry family member to your life? Adopting a kitten gives a baby a wonderful life to look forward to, and it frees up space at the foster’s home to rescue another kitten. The adoption fee for these little furballs is $100 and they are fixed, micro-chipped, and up-to-date on vaccines. You can find all of our available kittens and cats here.
At Hearts Alive Village, we are working towards a day where the local animal shelter is just a place where lost animals get a treat and a butt scratch while they wait for their parents to drive over and pick them up. In order to do this, we must stop the breeding cycle! In the meantime, our Kitten Nursery will ensure that these vulnerable little babies get the care, the love, and the chance at a happy life they deserve.