[caption id="attachment_12979" align="alignleft" width="352" caption="P3 Kitten "Perrin" with a Volunteer"][/caption]
"Being a Nursery volunteer is one of the most rewarding experiences." This is a common phrase heard in and around the Bottle Baby Nursery. Not only do you get to see and hold tiny baby kittens, but you also get to witness their growth and development while they await foster homes. You get to see the "ear wiggle" while they nurse from their bottles - a sure sign they have latched on (watch a video of Q4 kitten "Quest" demonstrating --> here). You get to learn about their needs and see the lengths that the medical team will go to in saving the smallest of lives. The Bottle Baby Program is the most resource and time-intensive component of APA. And the majority of the kitties saved through APA every year get their start in the Nursery.
Some of the kittens we've rescued this year have weighed a mere 70 grams (at birth, most kittens weigh between 90-110 grams, which is 3-4 oz.). Others have been 4 weeks old, eating kitten kibble, wanting to play and be cuddled. Some of the babies have even come into the Nursery with their momma! There is such a wide variety of kittens that come through the nursery, and volunteering to care for them is a phenomenal way to make a difference. As a volunteer you can choose to care for the ones you are most comfortable with, or you can care for them all! We admit, sometimes the tiny ones are intimidating...but they are the ones who need us most.
By being a Nursery volunteer, you can follow the stories of entire litters, like the Walgreen's Kittens or the "M4 kittens," shown here. The M4s were found by a couple who went to get their boat out of the marina and stumbled on a pile of 3 week old brown tabbies nestled on their boat with no momma cat in sight. It's always interesting to find out where the kittens were found and the circumstances surrounding their rescue. And it's pretty amazing to be a part of their care, socialization and future.
[caption id="attachment_12932" align="alignright" width="265" caption=""Nellie" from the N4 Litter"][/caption]
You can also follow precious kittens with minor birth defects, like "Willie" from last year, or "Nelson" who is in the Nursery now. Nelson came in with two littermates, and was born missing an eyelid on his right eye. He also has a slightly malformed nose bridge, but you wouldn't know that by loving on him. He's alert and active, and loves his bottle. And after a good meal, volunteers watch as he quietly plays pattycake. With the help of volunteers, he will soon be transitioning to gruel (canned kitten food mixed with water).
As a Nursery volunteer you will weigh kittens, feed them, make sure they are warm and clean, cuddle them and fall in love with each and every kitten. You can even transport babies when we rescue them from the shelter, and then name them when they arrive in the Nursery! And if you'd rather, you can simply prep food, clean, wash dishes & do some laundry down the hall. We have it all!
Volunteer shifts are generally 1-2 hours, but can be longer or shorter based on your availability. We ask for a minimum twice-a-month volunteer commitment, and daily emails are sent to the team letting you know which shifts need coverage. An online calendar facilitates self-scheduling. Each volunteer goes through a two-hour training session that helps familiarize you with the Nursery, sanitation protocols and care basics. Then, you shadow with an experienced feeder as many times as you wish to feel comfortable feeding solo. We ask that all volunteer feeders be 18 years old, but younger volunteers can certainly participate in other duties, such as cleaning cages, holding kittens, and preparing food & formula with parental supervision.
The Nursery is run by a team - a true team of diverse volunteers all sharing a similar interest and love for the kittens of APA! We share stories about the babies, help each other and celebrate all the hundreds of successes...1200 are expected this year! And we can't care for that many kittens without volunteers. Buddy up, sign up and join our team. Email [email protected] for more information.